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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - October 20, 2014

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Royal Caribbean Brings Wi-Fi to NYC Subway
Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape LibertyThe world’s first smartship Quantum of the Seas is set to arrive into New York Harbor on Nov. 10, 2014, and Royal Caribbean is counting down the days until her big debut. In anticipation of the ship’s arrival, Quantum of the Seas is making waves across NYC billboards, screens and digital displays capturing the attention of New Yorkers everywhere…including underground.

With Quantum of the Seas introducing a wave of technological features that have never before been possible at sea, including ultrafast wireless capability that allows for unprecedented connectivity, the cruise line partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to bring free Wi-Fi to underground subway platforms in Manhattan and Queens.

Highlights of Quantum of the Seas range from RipCord by iFLY, a heart pounding skydiving experience, to Bionic Bar, which is home to the world’s first robotic bartenders, a number of first-at-sea experiences including bumper cars and roller skating, and North Star, an engineering marvel that gently rises more than 300 feet in the air to take guests on a spectacular journey with awe-inspiring, 360-degree views.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty for her inaugural season before departing to her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China. Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton, U.K. in April 2015 sailing Mediterranean itineraries.

CLIA Details Protocol in Resonse to Carnival Magic Ebola Scare/Overreaction
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) President and CEO, Christine Duffy, issued the following statement today regarding the successful disembarkation of a passenger on the Carnival Magic who was under self-monitoring for potential exposure to Ebola.

CLIA Details Protocol in Resonse to Carnival Magic Ebola Scare/Overreaction"CLIA is very pleased that the passenger, who was asymptomatic, has tested negative for Ebola and was safely disembarked with her loved one at the Port of Galveston today, which is the homeport of Carnival Magic. We commend Carnival and the public health authorities for their effective and successful response in managing this situation professionally and with transparent and regular communication to everyone onboard the ship and to the public. We also congratulate all of the ship's passengers and Crewmembers, who responded calmly and responsibly to the directions of the ship's officers and public health authorities.

"CLIA and its member cruise lines have worked diligently and in conjunction with public health authorities to develop and distribute to all cruise line members strong protocols, and additional guidance, to reduce even further the already low risk of Ebola on a cruise ship. These prevention measures apply to passengers, crew and visitors and include:

• Denial of boarding to anyone arriving from countries designated with a Level 3 Travel Health warning by CDC.

• Denial of boarding to anyone who traveled to, in or through those countries within 21 days before embarkation.

• "Contact screening," in addition to travel history screening, and denial of boarding for anyone who had physical contact with, or helped care for, a person with Ebola within 21 days before embarkation.

"These measures are not static. CLIA and its member cruise lines are continually evaluating the situation with Ebola and are in regular contact with public health officials to assess the need to enhance the industry's protocols. Out of an abundance of caution and care for the well-being of our guests and Crewmembers, our measures typically go beyond what is technically required.

"We are also actively engaged with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other sectors of the travel industry, to assist the Federal government in quickly establishing a robust protocol for identifying any member of the traveling public designated by the CDC for monitoring.

"CLIA and its member cruise lines remain vigilant in our efforts to provide for the well-being of our guests and Crewmembers."

Princess Launches Honeymoon Wishes Online Registry
Princess Cruises is helping newlyweds enjoy the honeymoon of their dreams with a new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry. Couples can easily sign up at the line’s honeymoon registry page, select desired gifts to enhance their cruise vacation and share with family and friends.

Princess Launches Honeymoon Wishes Online RegistryThis feature allows couples to choose from a list of options they wish to enjoy on their honeymoon, from contributions to the cruise, drinks by the pool, specialty dining, relaxing spa treatments and shore excursions. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use on board during their honeymoon cruise. Couples can also create a wedding website to share photos and details about how they met, their engagement and wedding, e-mail their friends and family directing them to the registry and print out announcement cards that can be shared.

“Our new online Honeymoon Wishes Registry feature gives newlyweds a simple way to customize their honeymoon cruise and select their desired amenities to enjoy onboard,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “For the last 16 years, we’ve made wedding dreams come true with our unique weddings at sea program and this new offering is a wonderful extension to give couples ease and flexibility in creating their own gift registries.”

When Princess launched its seagoing weddings program in 1998, the cruise line made maritime and marriage history - and turned cruising lore into reality - by having the captain join couples in marriage. Until that point, there had been a common misconception that any ship captain was empowered to join couples in matrimony, but in truth, no such ceremony was ever conducted aboard a major cruise ship.

Today, Princess’ “Tie the Knot” wedding program has grown to not only offer these special at-sea wedding ceremonies on its cruise ships, but also include fleet-wide harborside ceremonies in embarkation ports or weddings ashore in select ports of call. Together these options have created one of the cruise industry’s most diverse and unique wedding programs, offering the convenience of a wedding and honeymoon in one customizable package that makes this milestone celebration easy and hassle-free.

Holland America Announces Management Changes
Joe Slattery has been promoted to the position of senior vice president, global marketing and sales for Holland America Line. In this newly created role, Slattery will oversee marketing and distribution in all worldwide markets, developing and executing initiatives that support Holland America Line’s revenue growth objectives.

Joe Slattery has been promoted to the position of senior vice president, global marketing and sales for Holland America LineSlattery — a 21-year company veteran — will continue to report to Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs.

“Joe has significantly expanded the reach and depth of our international sales initiatives, and the success of our offices in Rotterdam, the U.K. and Australia, and our growth in emerging markets around the world, can be attributed to his guidance,” said Meadows. “We are confident that all of our global markets will benefit from his strong vision and leadership and we congratulate him on this well-deserved promotion.”

Since 2008, Slattery has been Holland America Line’s vice president, international sales and marketing. Since joining the company in 1993 as a marketing product manager, Slattery has accumulated a wide range of experience in multiple executive roles, including vice president, revenue planning, and vice president, revenue marketing, where he was responsible for deployment and itinerary planning, revenue management and direct marketing.

Mark Kammerer has been named vice president, international marketing and sales for Holland America Line and Seabourn. In this role, he will be responsible for the companies’ sales offices in the U.K., the Netherlands and Australia, as well as Holland America Line and Seabourn’s growing international business.

Kammerer will report to Joe Slattery, Holland America Line’s senior vice president, global marketing and sales.

“Mark brings incredible knowledge and experience to this position, and his expertise supports the continued growth in our international presence,” said Slattery. “Mark has proven himself to be a creative thinker and inspiring leader, and I look forward to working with him.”

In his previous positions at Holland America Line, Kammerer was responsible for marketing and North American sales, as well as worldwide cruise marketing. Prior to joining the cruise line, Kammerer worked at several leading travel industry organizations including Virtuoso and Expedia Inc.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 35.92 + 6.02%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 61.23 +10.62%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.72 - 6.21%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.91 + 2.94%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the former Holland America liner that along with QE2 ended up being one of last two passenger ships to cross the Atlantic on a regular basis. What was her name when she was retired in 1988 and whom did she sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which famous liner included the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?

Answer - It was the Empress of Britain which had the the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?
courtesy of William Niff


Cruise News - October 13, 2014

Oasis of the Seas Returns From Drydock
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas emerged from a 14-day drydock today with a new look including reimagined dining, game-changing high-speed internet, exciting new retail offerings, a new popular and favorite Broadway show, new suites with exclusive suite dining and lounge. Sistership Allure of the Seas will follow suit in May 2015 with nearly identical enhancements. During their respective drydock, each ship’s seven neighborhoods will be enhanced as part of the cruises line’s Royal Advantage commitment to deliver the best vacation offerings and to introduce guests to even more new features and personalized experiences that can only be found when sailing with Royal Caribbean.

Oasis of the Seas, at Rotterdam, the Netherlands, during her 14-day drydock “Royal Caribbean’s legacy of innovation brought the revolutionary Oasis-class ships to life and in that spirit, during the Oasis of the Seas’ and Allure of the Seas’ drydocks we are adding features and experiences to wow our guests even more,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, executive vice president, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “One of the many exciting new features is Dynamic Dining, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests. We are expanding this new dining program, in line with our Royal Advantage commitment, to offer our guests and prospective consumers the amenities that appeal most to them according to the feedback we receive.”

Even More New Culinary Concepts:

• A key element of any vacation, dining provides vacation-goers with the opportunity to experience new flavors and indulge in old favorites. Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining, allows guests to tempt their taste buds with more choice and flexibility than ever before by offering guests a landscape of 20 restaurants, as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
• Royal Caribbean has recreated the original Oasis-class three-story main dining room into three distinct complimentary venues introducing bold new concepts each with their own cuisine and ambiance:
• American Icon Grill offers guests a take on the classic American road trip pulling together best-loved regional favorites into one comfort-style menu;
• Silk is a vibrant and exotic destination where the spices of the Far East bring new flavor to adventurous palates through a Pan-Asian menu;
• The Grande, where every night is formal night, offers an elegant ambiance and refined cuisine.

Guests will enjoy menus of the new concepts beginning March 14, 2015, onboard Oasis of the Seas. Guests sailing Oasis of the Seas prior to March 14, will enjoy the traditional dining room experience in the newly designed spaces.

As part of Dynamic Dining guests will have full control of their own epicurean journey with a tantalizing selection of specialty restaurants including four new unique concepts:

• Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a reimagined Izumi Japanese Cuisine offering a full teppanyaki menu as well as fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi;
• Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, first introduced aboard Navigator of the Seas to rave reviews, will feature a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes including hand-made tableside guacamole. These dishes can be complemented by a curated beverage menu of tequilas, mezcal, and Mexican beers, as well as delicious sangrias and tableside-mixed margaritas;
• Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a unique culinary adventure for the senses where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare;
• Coastal Kitchen is an exclusive restaurant for suite guests and Pinnacle members, that fuses Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California’s bountiful farmlands and features. The experience is complemented by a robust wine list, curated specifically for the venue.

Finally guests will continue to enjoy Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Vintage Wine Bar, the hugely successful specialty dining concepts introduced on the Oasis-class in 2009.

Technology - Royal Caribbean’s commitment to provide the best vacation experience is at the heart of its Royal Advantage program which takes its latest innovations and most popular features and expands them to even its newest ships, such as:

• Boatloads of Bandwidth, the game-changing partnership with technology partner O3b that will offer guests onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas connectivity that matches fast broadband connections onshore and is greater than all other cruise ships combined. These new capabilities, allow the cruise line to offer affordable, easy-to-use Internet packages so that guests may watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media and enjoy face-to-face video conversations – even in the middle of the ocean.
• Royal iQ is a new app that puts guests in charge of their vacation choices. Thanks to the dramatically improved connectivity, Royal iQ is able to continue dining reservations, shore excursions and spa appointments onboard, through both a downloadable app and at freestanding iQ stations around the ship. Guests also can use Royal iQ as a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of their program and to keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.

New Exclusive Suite Experience - Royal Caribbean is introducing 10 new suites on Oasis-class ships, offering breathtaking views of the ocean or the ships’ signature AquaTheater and Boardwalk neighborhood and includes, two Royal Suites, six Grand Suites and two Royal Family Suites, which can accommodate up to six guests. These suites offer a new level of sophistication when paired with the variety of new exclusive suite amenities that include:

• The Suite Lounge, an exclusive lounge area for suite guests to relax offering unmatched expansive views of the ship and sea;
• The Sun Deck, a new sun deck area that gives suites guests the chance to soak-up and relax in the Caribbean sun with lounge furniture, shaded and seating areas and private service;
• Coastal Kitchen is a suites only full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean flare.

New Broadway Show - Oasis of the Seas’ introduced the first-ever, fully-licensed Broadway show at sea and now, the ship will bring one of the longest running productions on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber’sTony award winning CATS to sea for the first time. Beginning June 2015, sister ship Allure of the Seas will feature MAMMA MIA!, the smash hit musical based on the story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs.

Superior Shopping at Sea - Known for its first at sea offerings, Royal Caribbean is introducing the playfully sophisticated designs of kate spade new york to Oasis-class on its popular Royal Promenade, a first at sea. Rounding out the diverse onboard shopping are two guest favorites Michael Kors and the Britto Art Gallery, as well as a whole new line-up of merchandise and fashion jewelry such as, Alexis Bittar, Uno de 50, Lauren G Adams, and Nina Nguyen.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints New President and Chief Operating Officer
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH) announced today that hospitality veteran Drew Madsen has joined as president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. Madsen brings a strong track record of success to Norwegian with more than 30 years of leadership experience in the hospitality and consumer products industry, most recently as president and chief operating officer at Darden Restaurants, Inc., the world's largest full-service restaurant company.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints New President and Chief Operating Officer"Having delivered exceptional results during his tenure at Darden, Drew has a wealth of experience to draw upon as he joins Norwegian," said Kevin Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "We are at an exciting point in our company's history. With the upcoming acquisition of Prestige Cruises International, Inc., it is the opportune time to add such a talented individual to our already diversified leadership team to focus on the core day-to-day business. I am confident in Drew as a results-oriented, highly collaborative and thoughtful leader who will continue to propel Norwegian on our positive growth trajectory."

Madsen played an instrumental role in establishing Darden as the most successful multi-brand operator in the full-service restaurant industry, increasing sales from $4.8 billion to $8.6 billion, while delivering a cumulative total shareholder return of 110% that significantly exceeded the S&P 500 by more than 47%. He also had the distinction of having Darden recognized as one of Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" ? a first for the food service industry that was repeated for three consecutive years.

Prior to Darden, Drew held leadership and marketing positions at James River Corporation and General Mills, among others. Throughout his career, he has consistently demonstrated an ability to produce results that led to improved operating margins, increased guest satisfaction, superior market penetration and an enhanced level of employee fulfillment.

"I am thrilled to be starting the next chapter of my career at Norwegian Cruise Line," said Madsen. "I am looking forward to ensuring that Norwegian excels in every facet of operation and that we continue to produce industry leading financial results, while also bringing new ideas and ways of doing business that improve guest satisfaction and team member involvement."

Madsen holds a master of business administration with distinction from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree in economics from DePauw University.

Keel-Laying Ceremony Held For New Carnival Vista
ms Veendam weaves among the stunning Hawaiian IslandsCarnival Cruise Lines’ newest ship, the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, achieved a significant construction milestone with a traditional keel-laying ceremony held earlier today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

The 133,500-ton vessel – the largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – is set to debut in spring 2016.

The ceremony – which dates back hundreds of years – signifies the official start of construction of a seagoing vessel.

The 25th vessel in Carnival’s fleet, Carnival Vista will feature a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 dining, bar and entertainment offerings as well as several innovations unique to this vessel.

Additional design details, as well as homeport and itinerary information, are expected to be unveiled early next year

Three HAL Ships Sail to Mexico and Hawaii in 2014
From fall 2014 through spring 2015, Holland America Line heads to the tropics of Hawaii and explores the spirit of Mexico with a variety of itineraries ranging in length from seven to 18 days. Two ships will sail the azure waters of Mexico, while ms Veendam weaves among the stunning Hawaiian Islands.

ms Veendam weaves among the stunning Hawaiian Islands"Holland America Line carefully crafts our itineraries to showcase the best of each region, and the Mexico and Hawaii itineraries are the ultimate journey for any traveler looking to visit these destinations," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest programs. "From our onboard enrichment programming to the selection of ports, guests cruising on one of our elegant mid-size ships will have the most immersive and memorable experience possible."

The line's cruises to Mexico on ms Veendam and ms Statendam from October 2014 through March 2015 visit some of the most beautiful ports in the country and conveniently sail roundtrip San Diego, Calif. Veendam sails seven-day Mexican Riviera itineraries to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, with scenic cruising in Bahia Magdalena. Statendam offers a 12-day Sea of Cortez adventure that highlights six Mexican ports and an overnight at Puerto Vallarta.

The five sailings to Hawaii in winter and spring 2014-15 aboard ms Veendam feature relaxing days at sea and calls at five Hawaiian ports. These 17- and 18-day itineraries also sail roundtrip from San Diego. Select back-to-back Veendam itineraries in November and December can be combined to form the ultimate 24- or 25-day Mexico and Hawaii Collectors' Voyage.

During the longer sailings with more sea days, guests can enjoy all of the onboard experiences that are exclusive to the premium cruise line. On each of these cruises guests will get to take part in cultural activities such as lei making, ukulele lessons, live mariachi band concerts and an extensive lecture lineup as part of Holland America Line's "On Location" program. The itinerary sets the theme for guests to indulge in localized experiences that make time onboard as enriching as visiting the ports of call through lectures, demonstrations and performances.

Princess Cruises to Mark 50th Anniversary with Onboard Celebrations
The 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises will be especially memorable for guests cruising in 2015, as they will be treated to festive onboard celebrations including a themed menu, cocktails and entertainment.

Princess Cruises to Mark 50th Anniversary with Onboard Celebrations"We love helping our guests celebrate their many milestone occasions aboard their cruises, so to be able to mark our company's golden anniversary with them in 2015 is very special," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We've developed many not-to-be-missed experiences commemorating our 50th and we know our guests will thoroughly enjoy the lively atmosphere found on board during our anniversary year."

The following anniversary offerings will be introduced across the fleet early in 2015:

• Love Boat Disco Deck Party – To honor the iconic role The Love Boat played in the line's history, a new Love Boat Disco Party will celebrate the beloved program by creating an exciting 70's theme night with a few surprises. Movies Under the Stars will showcase video messages from the original Love Boat cast, special montages from the show, a Love Boat sing-a-long and show trivia, 70's music videos and even a live kiss cam. The party will also feature a production number, a celebration of weddings and anniversaries of guests onboard, a photo opportunity with a Love Boat life ring and plenty of dancing with a party band.

• Festive Food - One night on every cruise, the main dining rooms will present a special souvenir menu, featuring commemorative dishes from the past five decades, including Duck Terrine with Apricot Preserves and Filet of Turbot with Truffle Chive Sauce. Known for offering "the best pizza at sea," Princess chefs will also introduce a variety of new anniversary pizzas such as Spicy Tomato & Shrimp, Potato, Bacon & Brie and Thai.

• Chocolate Journeys – As part of the new "Chocolate Journeys" experience, renowned master pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love has created two special 50th anniversary desserts that will be served to guests during their cruise vacations - Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Vanilla Creme Brulee and Crunchy Shortbread or Moist Chocolate Dome with Raspberry Creme Brulee and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. These two desserts will alternate from one voyage to another.

• Cheers to 50 Years – Guests can sip inventive cocktails from renowned mixologist Spike Marchant along with popular drinks through the decades - from a classic martini to a pina colada. A special half-bottle anniversary-labeled Prosecco will be offered and the new Seawitch West Coast IPA craft beer especially brewed for the 50th anniversary will be available.

• Let Us Entertain You – A 50th celebration in the signature Piazza will feature a golden balloon drop and some balloons will even feature surprise giveaway items hidden inside. A special anniversary song, "Here's to Princess," celebrating the line's history will also be performed. Guests can also compete in exciting game shows and test their knowledge with the Princess Trivia Challenge - 50th Anniversary edition. Plus, on select sailings, guests can dance to the music of tribute bands - like the Beatlemaniacs - bringing the greatest hits over the decades to life.

• 50th Anniversary Decor and Guest Giveaways – Anniversary decor and signage will be displayed from the time guests arrive in the terminal (domestic home ports only) and be visible through various onboard touches, including a spectacular anniversary display cake presented in the atrium. A 50th anniversary tote bag and commemorative time line will be placed in each guest stateroom upon embarkation. In addition, guests will notice the 50th anniversary logo on their stateroom key cards and on the daily Princess Patter. A series of videos will also play on stateroom televisions that share the company's history and milestone moments. Each cruise ship in the fleet will also be adorned with a 50th anniversary flag on the bow.

• Commemorative Keepsakes – The onboard boutiques, voted "Best Onboard Shopping" six consecutive years by Porthole magazine, will offer limited edition merchandise and exclusive offers during the anniversary celebration. Plus, the photo department will have commemorative backdrops and folios to capture the memories of guests' cruise vacations.

The 50th anniversary officially kicks off with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on November 5, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale by the original Love Boat cast members before she sets sail for her maiden season of Caribbean cruises. Some of the 50th anniversary onboard offerings will be available aboard Regal Princess beginning in November and roll out to the rest of the fleet in early 2015.

Viking Ocean Cruises Announces Captain Of Viking Star
Captain Gulleik SvalastogViking Ocean Cruises today announced that Captain Gulleik Svalastog will be at the helm of its first ocean ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – which will take on its first guests in April 2015.

Leveraging his experience as a cruise captain in Norway, Captain Svalastog will command and oversee the operation, crew and safety of the ship in its maiden season in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. Viking has also released today a new online video interview with Captain Svalastog.

Svalastog brings 45 years of sailing experience to Viking Ocean Cruises. He has held a variety of senior ship management positions and has worked as superintendent for Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises and as Lead Auditor for Det Norske Veritas (DNV).

His most recent position held was captain of Color Line Cruises. Svalastog is currently a member of the team overseeing the final stage of outfitting and interior build-out for Viking Star, which touched water for the first time in June 2014 at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard and will be christened in May 2015.

"We could not ask for a better captain for our first ocean ship," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "Captain Svalastog brings an impeccable record that will undoubtedly guide Viking Star and her guests though a successful maiden season."

Carnival Corporation Signs Agreement With Largest Chinese Shipyard
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest cruise company, today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to explore the possibility of a joint venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the Chinese cruise industry, expected to be one of the largest cruise markets in the world with 4.5 million passengers by 2020, according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT).

Carnival Corporation Signs Agreement With Largest Chinese ShipyardBecoming official at a signing ceremony today at the Ninth China Cruise Shipping and International Cruise Expo inTianjin, the MOU outlines the framework for exploration of a partnership between Carnival Corporation and the CSSC that includes the possibility of forming a shipbuilding joint venture that could become a three-way arrangement involving Fincantieri ofItaly, the world's largest cruise ship building company, in support of the Chinese government's plans to grow the cruising industry inChina and meet escalating demand for cruises from Chinese travelers.

As part of the possible shipbuilding joint venture, Carnival Corporation would work closely with CSSC and Fincantieri to help define the first-ever, world-class cruise ship built in China. Carnival Corporation, the world's leading cruise operator, has been involved in building modern cruise ships that exceed guest expectations more than any entity in the world. Under the joint venture concept, Carnival Corporation would provide its ship design and shipbuilding expertise to create the vision, definition and overall specifications for theChina-built cruise ship.

"This is really a breakthrough day for all of us at Carnival, as well as our friends at the CSSC and all Chinese travelers who are increasingly turning to cruises for their vacation experiences," saidArnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This landmark agreement enables us to work closely with our partners at the CSSC to fully explore the possibility of forming a joint venture to further developChina into a leading cruise market, supporting local economic development and bringing vacation enjoyment to millions. We look forward to getting to work and lending the expertise of many talented people across Carnival Corporation."

In the past year, the Chinese Ministry of Transport has expressed its strong desire to transformChina into a leading global cruise market, including investments in infrastructure and developing a strong domestic cruise presence to help spur growth in cruising as a key component of the expanding tourism industry inChina.

The MOT projects China to be the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. in the next several years based on economic growth, increased spending power of Chinese consumers and growing demand for cruise vacations inChina. Partnerships like the relationship being fully explored between CSSC and Carnival support the MOT's pro-growth cruise policies designed to spur new economic development from tourism inChina.

Carnival Corporation just recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth in China in 2015 to meet growing demand. With Costa Cruises adding the Costa Serena to its fleet in China in April of next year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China, growing the company's leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013 – 2015. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China.

With its Costa and Princess brands homeporting ships in China, Carnival Corporation offers Chinese travelers a diversified cruising product with two brands targeting two different segments of travelers. Having multiple brands enables Carnival to meet and exceed guest expectations on the cruises it operates in China by closely matching passenger tastes with the right brand experience. In total, Carnival will have 220 port calls from five brands in China in 2014, which is 15 percent of the company's total port calls in all of Asia – a region where Carnival doubled its market share over the past two years

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 33.88 - 14.23%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.35 - 16.09%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 - 3.97%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.97 - 10.20%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous liner included the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ship was the first to offer movies at sea?

Answer - The United States Shipping Board's MARTHA WASHINGTON, operating in the early 1920's for Munson Line on trips from the United States to Brasil, Uruguay and Argentina. The movies were shown on deck.
courtesy of Mark Smith


Cruise News - October 6, 2014

SS United States Conservancy Has "High Hopes" To Save Famous Liner;
Reaches Major Funding Milestone

"But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes.
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes"

Those lyrics are from a song called "High Hopes" which was made popular by Frank Sinatra in the late 1950's. The song describes a number of scenarios where impossible odds are seemingly overcome through of a combination of positive attitude and perseverance.

SS United StatesDuring 1959, the year that song first became popular, the passenger liner SS United States - the flagship of the United States Lines - had been in service for seven years and was carrying thousands of passengers a week across the Atlantic in comfort and luxury.

At 990 feet in length, the SS United States was a technical marvel designed by legendary marine architect, William Francis Gibbs and when she entered service in 1952 she was the pride of the American merchant fleet. Her first passage from Ambrose Lighthouse to Bishops Rock smashed the record for fastest crossing of the Atlantic in 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes.

It has been more than 55 years since "High Hopes" first became a hit and while the song has faded from the public's memory and become part of a forgotten past, amazingly the SS United States is very much a part of the here and now.

For the past 18 years the once famous liner has been tied up at Pier 84 in South Philadelphia looking for a new life. The fact that a 53,000 ton ship built over 60 years ago is still around and is the centerpiece of several proposals for re-purposing the ship as a mixed-use permanently moored vessel on the New York waterfront is truly amazing and the direct result of the same combination of positive attitude and perseverance highlighted in the song.

Unfortunately, positive attitude and perseverance can only take a project so far. For the resurrection of the SS United States to come to fruition it will take millions of dollars of investment money and the cooperation of state and local authorities.

According to the SS United States Conservancy, the group that currently owns the SS United States, two detailed proposals have recently been submitted to New York City officials and they are now in talks regarding if and how next steps can emerge.

But time is short and it remains to be seen whether the Conservancy will be able to raise enough money to see their "high hopes" become reality.

In late September, the Conservancy announced that it will need to make a determination about the ship's future by the end of the month unless resources are found in short order to help cover the vessel's ongoing maintenance costs. Specifically, that means they will need to determine whether to sell or scrap the historic ship, unless they have entered into a funded option with a developer or have succeeded in attracting major new philanthropic support.

SS United States"We need someone with vision to step in and save the United States. We've made great strides in recent months, but what we need now is more time. This is an opportunity for a true hero to come forward and ensure the great potential of this project is realized. Discussions are underway with city and state officials to confirm that our plans meet regulatory guidelines and provide significant economic benefits, but the clock is ticking," said the Conservancy's Executive Director Susan Gibbs.

The ship has faced its end several times before. Most recently in 2011, the SS United States was just days away from being scrapped when a major gift to the Conservancy helped the grassroots organization purchase the vessel.

The Conservancy spends more than $60,000 per month to pay for the ship's dockage, insurance and maintenance costs at her current pier in Philadelphia. The organization is funded by private donations and has not received any government support.

On September 30th, the Conservancy announced that they had made progress and were within $2,072 from reaching a goal that would generate a matching fund grant of $100,000 from Jim Pollin who had donated $120,000 to the Conservancy this past June. At the time of that donation, Pollin had pledged to donate an additional $100,000 if the Conservancy succeeded in matching that amount through its fundraising efforts.

Then just this week the Conservancy announced that it had raised $122,165 from donors in 44 states in 17 countries in amounts spanning one dollar to ten thousand. In response, Jim Pollin upped the ante: "Our nation's flagship isn't just an historic vessel," Pollin said. "It also represents the people of a great and determined nation that once again have demonstrated they can rise to any challenge. In response to the generosity of so many supporters of the SS United States, I am proud to match their recent contributions with an additional donation of $120,000 to save this enduring symbol of our country."

The good news is that thanks to this fundraising success, the ship is safe for now. But the situation remains critical, and as the Conservancy continues to negotiate with New York developers, its hopes remain high that the vessel will soon be heading into drydock in anticipation of a star-spangled journey to a new port of call.

Check back for updates as the story of the SS United States continues.

P&O Unveils Britannia's Livery
P&O Unveils Britannia's LiveryP&O announced this week that it as put the finishing touches to the brand new livery on the newest ship in their fleet; Britannia. She's the largest ship built for Britain and will be officially named in her glittering naming ceremony in Southampton in March 2015.

The bold new look on the bow features the world's largest contemporary version of the Union Flag, which required huge volumes of paint! In total, the cruise line said that it needed 280 litres of red paint, 40 litres red for the shadow, 80 litres of blue, 20 litres of blue for the shadow and 160 litres for the big logo of P&O Cruises on the front of the bow.

Britannia will also have two distinctive blue funnels carrying an illuminated rising sun motif, which depicts the Oriental part of the Peninsular and Oriental (P&O) name on our coat of arms.

When working to full capacity, Britannia’s four engines will generate 62.4 Megawatts or 84,000 horsepower which is equivalent to the power generated by 168 supercars, allowing the 141,000 ton ship to cruise at a speed of 22 knots.

Britannia’s maiden season will see the ship sail from Southampton to the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords, Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea, as well as offering a range of short breaks and a special round Britain cruise. The ship will then transfer to the Caribbean for the winter season sailing a range of 15 night fly/cruise itineraries from Barbados.

Crystal Symphony Returns From Dry Dock
Crystal Symphony has emerged from a two-week, $20 million-plus dry dock redesign with lushly reimagined spaces, indoors and out. Luxury cruise leader Crystal Cruises unveiled the ship's new look on September 27, as guests embarked on an eight-day Hamburg-Lisbon voyage, greeted by contemporary and elegant new designs in the Crystal Plaza and adjacent Crystal Cove Bar area – the ship's main activity "hubs". Luxury travelers on board will also experience a new outdoor "Fitness Garden" spanning three aft decks; top of the line indoor fitness equipment; redesigned spa and casino spaces; additional PURE allergy-friendly staterooms; and technological upgrades throughout the ship.

2014 redesign of the Crystal Symphony Crystal Plaza"We continue to invest in creating a contemporary and sumptuous environment that meets the travelers' desire," says Crystal President and COO, Edie Rodriguez. "The new features and spaces added during this dry dock are astounding, and offer our guests the relaxed, yet luxurious comfort that they have come to expect and enjoy on Crystal Cruises."

Highlights of the intensive redesign include:

• Fitness spaces – A brand new outdoor Fitness Garden was added to decks 7, 8 and 12 aft, featuring a "Curated Self-Guided Movement Journey" utilizing the glass-blasted, stainless steel equipment, with adjustments for virtually every fitness level. Deck 12's indoor Fitness Center boasts new equipment from Technogym -- the official choice for Olympic and World Cup competitors – including brand new cardio equipment plus an expanded collection of Technogym's Kinesis™ strength training equipment. This new addition makes Crystal an industry-first to feature the top of the line Artis equipment at sea. The new indoor fitness experience is the most technologically-advanced available with an intuitive, tablet-like Unity™ interface programming system enabling guests to connect to music, data, workout-tracking, or TV-watching.

• Crystal Plaza – The main lobby area (including the Reception, Front Desk, and Concierge sections), and the bustling "hub" on board, boasts added drama with a new towering waterfall, a rich color palette of indigo and bronze, bespoke carpets, new upholstery and tables for fresh flowers complementing the existing marble floors and wood balustrade and stair details. These contemporary designs were all inspired by designer Christopher Farr, creating lasting first impressions for guests as they embark on their journey.

• Cove Bar – New and up-cycled furniture, contrasting indigo and cream color palette, artwork and metal-work cocktail tables reflect an elegant luxury yacht setting, while a revised layout allows for more social group seating and places the bar as the centerpiece of the new space. New sculptural furniture pieces, drapery, artwork, and a large scale custom carpet design reflect a fluid and flowing design concept, and carry the design across the space.

• Stateroom upgrades –48 newly converted PURE hypoallergenic luxury staterooms are now available on the ship, offering a comprehensive, chemical- and odor-free indoor environment solution. With a state-of-the-art medical grade air purifier discreetly installed to filter out 99.9% of all airborne impurities on an ongoing basis, guests can expect relief from allergies and more sound sleep, thus enhancing the overall relaxation and recuperation expected from a vacation.

• Spa and Salon – Colorful new tiles adorn the steam room and changing areas in the men's and women's spa facilities, while the salon has been upgraded with a new pedicure area and wall coverings.

• Casino – The port side wall was removed to create a more open, accessible space, showcasing a modified layout, and new slot machines.

• The Bistro – New seating and decor reflects a European bistro in a modern way, bringing fresh life to one of the most popular meeting and dining spots on the ship. Tech upgrades – New digital signage will display important cruise and programming details throughout the ship on 14 flat screen monitors near the ship's lounges, theatres, dining and sales areas.

• Indoor & outdoor refreshments – Deck 10 staterooms and Penthouses now sport new verandah furniture, while carpets for all deluxe staterooms (415 in all), as well as guest corridors on four decks, were replaced.

• Shopping – Facets now features watches from luxury designers Hublot, Jaegar LeCoulture and Zenith.

Carnival Corporation Building Crew Training Facility in the Netherlands
Carnival Corporation & plc today finalized its land purchase in Almere, Netherlands, marking the official start of development for its state-of-the-art training facility that will serve 6,500 deck and technical officers from all nine of its global cruise brands each year. The centerpiece of the new campus will be a new and three-times-larger Center for Simulator Maritime Training (CSMART), Carnival Corporation's world-class maritime training, professional development and research facility, already operating in Almere.

Carnival worked with Dutch property group AMVEST Vastgoed B.V. in the Netherlands to purchase the seven-acre property along the coast in DUIN, a planned business and residential community in Almere, one of Europe's newest and fastest growing cities, conveniently located on the outskirts of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

The official ceremony following the land transfer for Carnival Corporation's new CSMART facility in Almere, NetherlandsThe new CSMART facility, expected to open in 2016, will continue to be a key to Carnival Corporation as the company works to enhance, expand and streamline its global training efforts across all nine of its cruise brands. The courses provided by Carnival at both the original and new facilities set a higher standard for training in the cruising industry that exceeds industry regulations. As the world's largest cruise company, the corporation has recognized the importance of ensuring training resources keep up with both the growth of the business and advancements in cruise ship technology.

"Carnival has established a world-class center for maritime training and research featuring the latest innovations in technology, and expanding our facility and capabilities underscores the company's top priority -- consistently exceeding our guests' expectations by providing great vacations and memories," said David Christie, senior vice president of maritime quality assurance for Carnival Corporation. "We are eager to begin building our new center in a city that has been a wonderful home for CSMART and in a development that provides a great setting for our deck and technical officers."

"Having Carnival Corporation continue to maintain its presence in our city and make a significant investment here is a great vote of confidence from a major global enterprise that we believe will help spur development for Almere, which is already one of the fastest growing cities in Europe," said Almere Alderman Henk Mulder. "This is exciting news not just for Almere, but the entire region and country."

"Carnival's training center will seamlessly fit into AMVEST's development plans for our 250-acre DUIN project on Almere's lake shore," said AMVEST Vastgoed B.V. CEO Wienke Bodewes, "The center will be the first anchor in our development which will feature dunes and beaches, a marina and a boulevard, homes, apartments, shops and offices – all of which complement a maritime enterprise like Carnival and will serve as great resources for visitors to the CSMART training campus."

The new and expanded facility will build on the positive economic impact continuing to be made by Carnival Corporation in Almere and the Netherlands by the original facility, which was opened in 2009. The center being built in DUIN and the original facility are the product of Carnival Corporation's $50 million investment in CSMART, supporting the company's commitment to providing industry-leading training for its deck and technical officers. The center is expected to employ up to 52 individuals. As more Carnival representatives come to the expanded center than ever before, significant revenue and commerce will be generated for businesses and people in the area, including Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, transportation services, food suppliers and others.

Carnival Corporation made the decision to bring the original center to Almere for several reasons, including its location near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a modern international airport that serves as one of the key hubs in Europe, the long tradition of maritime excellence in the Netherlands and the reputation of the region as a welcoming place to do business. These reasons paired with the current success of the original facility helped the company make the decision to also develop its new facility in Almere.

The current CSMART facility features the most advanced equipment and instructional tools available for captains, officers and engineers – this technology will also be incorporated into the new center on a larger scale with even more advanced additions. Four full mission bridge simulators including bridge wings, four engine room simulators, nine smaller part task simulators and the industry's first fully equipped training safety center will provide participants with a superior maritime training experience.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in 2015.

Star Princess to Deliver Relief Supplies on Return to Cabo San Lucas
Star Princess to Deliver Relief Supplies on Return to Cabo San LucasStar Princess will call on Cabo San Lucas this Saturday, Oct. 4, for the first time following Hurricane Odile and bring needed relief supplies to area residents impacted by the storm. The Princess cruise ship will deliver pallets of bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

"The residents of Cabo San Lucas form one big hospitality community that regularly welcomes our ships' guests. We want to return that hospitality by giving back to them as they work to recover and prepare to receive visitors once again," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

"The entire destination has been working tirelessly to reopen restaurants, shops and tours, and all of us at Princess appreciate and applaud their commitment to tourism and their tremendous effort to rebuild and restore so quickly," she added.

Star Princess will be the first Princess ship, and among the first of all cruise line ships, to visit Cabo San Lucas since Hurricane Odile hit the area in mid-September. The popular Princess Cruises west coast fall 2014 and spring 2015 sailings program includes a variety of 7, 9- and 10-day Mexico cruises on Grand Princess, Crown Princess and Star Princess. Panama Canal cruises on Island Princess also call on Mexico destinations including Cabo San Lucas.

A Yacht Bigger Than a Cruise Ship?

Move over Azzam, at 180m (590'), you're not long enough. Tough luck, Eclipse, at 163.5m (536'), you're yesterday's news. Goodbye Dubai, at 162m (531'), you've had your day in the sun.

Project "Triple Deuce" is coming, and at 222 meters (728.4'), it's going to send you, and other yachts in your category, into obscurity as this new build takes its place as the world's largest yacht.

To put this massive yacht in perspective for the layman, the sheer size of Triple Deuce even dwarfs some cruise shipsMost Expensive, Largest, Private Yacht Ever Built - "Project Triple Deuce is about to set the world on fire as not only the largest private yacht ever built, coming in at a whopping 222 meters (728.4'), but also the most expensive, at a cost of over $1 billion USD," said Craig Timm, yacht broker at 4Yacht, Inc., responsible for selling Project Triple Deuce to his client.

This Yacht Dwarfs Cruise Ships - To put this massive yacht in perspective for the layman, the sheer size of Triple Deuce even dwarfs some cruise ships. As an example, Costa Cruises has a ship named Costa Classic that is 722' long and carries 1,308 passengers and 590 crewmembers. But Triple Deuce is a private yacht, and is designed to carry only 36 guests in opulent luxury with a crew complement of 90-100.

In addition to being the longest private yacht in the world at 222 meters (728.4'), the yacht will have a beam of 24.9 meters (81.69'), and a draft of 4.8 meters (15.78').

This yacht will be no slouch in the speed department either, as its top speed will be in excess of 30 knots (35 MPH). To get to that speed, she will be powered by triple gas turbine engines making over 100,000 horsepower. The yacht also has no rudders, as electric podded propulsion units (think The Queen Mary 2) will handle maneuvering.

Owner And Guests Live Like Royalty - The owner's suite, at 275 square meters (2960 square feet) over two stories, will encompass nearly one full deck of space in the seven-deck yacht, and offer unparalleled views. It will feature two staterooms, and will include private access to a helipad and an elevator from an exclusive drive in dock, as well as all the luxury amenities you would come to expect. The owner's suite also offers a private gym, office and study, private dining area, butler's stateroom and more.

Onboard guests will be similarly pampered in four VIP suites of 90 square meters (968 square feet) apiece, and 12 guest suites, each at over 60 square meters (645 square feet). All guests will have access to the yacht's two pools, one indoor, one outdoor, multiple Jacuzzis, spa facilities, full time masseuse, hair stylist and barber, as well as all the water toys the yacht can carry.

Who Would Buy A Yacht Of This Size? - "It takes a person of vision, someone with a dream to own the worlds largest yacht and to bring it to reality," claims Timm. "We work almost exclusively with UHNWI (ultra high net worth individuals) clients and specialize in mega yachts and super yachts. For several years, we have advertised the sale of a 200 meter yacht on our luxury website, http://www.4yacht.com, and have worked with several UHNWI as well as several Middle Eastern clients toward the goal of building a yacht of this size. We had many discussions with our buyer that a yacht of 200 meters was of sufficient length, however with the launching of Azzam recently at 180 Meters, that all changed.

This Yacht Not To Be "Eclipsed" - "What our client was concerned about is that if we built the yacht to 200 meters, then someone would come along like Roman Abramovich when he built Eclipse at 163.5 meters, to barely 'eclipse' Sheikh Maktoum's yacht, the 162-meter Dubai, by only 1.5 meters," said Timm. "By building the yacht to 222 meters, he wants to make it difficult, if not impossible, to be 'eclipsed' himself."

According to Timm, construction of Project Triple Deuce will begin at a European shipyard, which has still yet to be decided, in the next 6-12 months, with a target delivery date of spring 2018. He goes on to say that the yacht will be built under the 100 A1 Passenger Ship Classification and be fully PYC (Passenger Yacht Code) Compliant.

What's All This Luxury Going To Cost The Owner Of This Yacht? - Current large super yachts run about €3.5 million to €4 million per meter to build at the best European shipyards. If we do the quick math, we can see that Project Deuce will cost €777 million to €888 million, or at the current USD exchange rate, $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion."Don't forget to add in annual operating costs," Timm said. "On a yacht of this size, it will run the owner an additional $20-$35 million USD per year."

The Race To Build The Biggest And The Best - Much like the race to build the tallest buildings in the world, such as the Shanghai Tower at 632 meters (2073'), or the Burj Khalifa at 828 meters (2717'), super yachts will continue to expand their size depending on who needs to have the biggest and best yacht.

How Long Will Project Triple Deuce Hold Its Position As The World's Largest Yacht? - "That's hard to determine, as there is a limit, not in size, but functionality and logistics," Timm said. "We haven't gotten there yet, but if the uber wealthy of the world have their way, Project Triple Deuce will be toppled in the future. How soon? That will be anybody's guess."

Cunard Appoints MGA Media Group as North America PR Agency
Cunard Appoints MGA Media Group as North America PR AgencyCunard Line announced this week that it has selected New York City based MGA Media Group to lead their public relations efforts in North America. MGA Media Group will direct the luxury cruise line’s brand awareness, strategic partnership development, special events and media relations as the company prepares to celebrate its 175th Anniversary in 2015.

“MGA Media Group displays a unique combination of brand understanding, industry expertise and creative thinking that we believe will elevate our brand awareness to our various audiences,” said Stanley Birge, vice president, North America, for Cunard Line. “We are very excited about this new partnership.”

Work began in September 2014 with a celebratory 10th Anniversary event for Queen Mary 2 on board the flagship in Boston Harbor.

Maria Grazia Andriano, president and chief strategist of MGA Media Group, said, “We are proud to have been selected as Cunard Line’s North American public relations agency of record, especially as it celebrates its 175th Anniversary. We are excited to help the brand highlight its rich history, while looking to the future to develop new strategic partnerships and public relations initiatives.”

MGA Media Group represents a prestigious portfolio of hospitality, travel, real estate, beauty and wellness clients. Andriano, a public relations veteran, has a deep knowledge of the brand, having represented Cunard previously in her career.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.50 - 2.23%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 65.96 - 1.45%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 + 1.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 35.60 - 1.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ship was the first to offer movies at sea?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which cruise ship's capacity was set to equal the number of seats in a 747?

Answer - The ship in question was the 'Golden Odyssey', built for Royal Cruise Line in 1974. Her capacity equalled that of a Boeing 747 and it was felt the use of one planeload of passengers to fill the ship would promote their fly/cruise programme. The ship is still in service as the German-operated 'Astra II'.
courtesy of Tony Davis


Cruise News - September 29, 2014

Carnival Ecstasy Passenger Dies After Fall
Carnival Ecstasy Passenger Dies After Fall A 20-year-old male passenger onboard the Carnival Ecstasy died early Monday morning after falling from the ship's forward mast as the cruise ship was returning to port in Miami. According to the cruise line, the passenger entered a restricted area in the forward area of the ship to climb the mast and fell approximately 25 feet to the deck below.

He was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition but later died. The Miami Dade Police Department identified the passenger as Kendall Wernet who was from Winter Park, Florida and was a student at Clemson University. According to friends, he was traveling on the cruise with a group of coworkers from a painting company he worked at.

In a statement released by Carnival a spokesperson described what happened, "Earlier this morning as the Carnival Ecstasy was approaching PortMiami, a 20-year-old male guest entered a restricted area and climbed up onto the ship’s forward mast. He subsequently fell and landed on the deck. He was initially treated by the ship’s medical team and later transferred to a local trauma center in Miami. Unfortunately, he has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time."

Police are investigating the incident but at this point it appears to have been an accident.

MSC Cruises Launches New Pricing Structure
MSC Cruises announced today that it has launched Inclusive Experiences, a new pricing structure in which guests choose an "experience" based on their own personal preferences and amenities desired while cruising.

Valued at up to $700+ per person, guests have the option of selecting from four different experience categories – Bella, Fantastica, Aurea, and MSC Yacht Club – ranging from a la carte to all-inclusive amenities.

MSC Cruises Launches New Pricing Structure"Consumers are increasingly seeking all-inclusive vacation experiences where all the services and activities they want can be paid for in one bundled package up front," said Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA. "Our new pricing model allows guests to customize their vacation experience based on their own personal desires."

Already introduced in most European markets, MSC Cruises is rolling out the experience pricing in North America due to the positive feedback received from guests abroad.

The inclusive experiences include the following options:

Bella Experience – Best Price: The Bella experience is designed for value-conscious travelers looking to enjoy the wide-range of amenities and entertainment MSC Cruises offers to all its guests, while having the option to add additional onboard services, such as beverage or spa packages, a la carte. The Bella experience is available for guests booking interior, ocean view or balcony staterooms.

Fantastica Experience – Priority Choice: The Fantastica experience provides guests additional flexibility and comfort options, such as the ability to choose a premium location stateroom and priority choice of early or late dining. Additional benefits in the Fantastica experience include 50 percent off all fitness classes and personal training; free delivery of room service between 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.; and enhanced recreational activities for children including cooking and foreign language classes. As a special promotion, guests who book the Fantastica experience for select 7-night or longer sailings on the MSC Divina in the Caribbean or Mediterranean will also receive a beverage package. This experience is available for guests booking interior, ocean view or balcony staterooms.

Aurea Experience – Premium Choice: The Aurea experience bundles several exceptional amenities, including premium choice of balcony staterooms and suites and dining in the main restaurant with "My Choice Dining" flexible times. Additional benefits in the Aurea experience include priority boarding; a beverage package consisting of unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, excluding premium drinks; a spa package with a massage and private spa consultation; access to the exclusive adults only Top 18 sun deck; and all the perks associated with the Fantastica experience. The Aurea experience is available for guests booking Aurea balcony staterooms and suites.

MSC Yacht Club – Elite Choice: The MSC Yacht Club is for guests interested in an all-inclusive VIP club level experience. Guests selecting this exclusive experience enjoy a private club with keycard access; priority check-in and check-out reception; signature Butler service; dedicated 24-hour concierge; exclusive Top Sail lounge and pool; 24/7 complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available within the Yacht Club area; and a private MSC Yacht Club restaurant.

Carnival Miracle To Begin Year-Round Mexican Riviera Program Next Week
Carnival Miracle will depart Saturday, Oct. 4 from Long Beach, Calif., on the first voyage of a new year-round cruise program to the Mexican Riviera.  The ship will be the first to call at Cabo San Lucas on October 6 following Hurricane Odile and will be loaded with relief supplies provided by Carnival for local residents.

Carnival Miracle’s new year-round Mexican Riviera program will encompass three different week-long itineraries, including a new three-port, seven-day cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Miracle To Begin Year-Round Mexican Riviera Program Next WeekDuring the ship’s first visit to Cabo San Lucas, the crew will be off-loading several pallets of bottled water, canned food, cereal, diapers, paper products, personal items and other supplies for local residents.

“We have been in close contact with officials in Cabo San Lucas and have sent our own teams there to evaluate the recovery process,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.  “The residents, along with local, state and federal authorities, have worked extremely hard to ready the destination to receive visitors and revitalize the economic contribution that tourism brings to the area.  At the same time, local residents are still in need of relief supplies and it is extremely gratifying to be resuming our Mexican Riviera cruise program while doing some good for the local community,” Cahill added.

Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, federal under minister of tourism for Mexico, stated, “Our tourism destinations are ready to receive visitors.  Tourism is an important part of the local economy and we are grateful for everyone’s contribution to the recovery of Los Cabos.  The destination is ready for cruise passengers and the majority of restaurants, shops and tours are ready to be enjoyed.”

Carnival Miracle’s year-round schedule from Long Beach also includes two other itinerary options.  The first is a seven-day, two-port itinerary that features a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta. The second alternate itinerary includes a visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.

Princess Introduces New Mobile App For Regal Princess Passengers
Regal Princess guests will have the opportunity to connect with their fellow cruisers with the debut of Princess@Sea Messenger, a free mobile messenger feature offering guests an easy way to share updates and make plans during their cruise vacation.

Princess Introduces New Mobile App For Regal Princess PassengersThe Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed via a smartphone or tablet browser. It debuts on Regal Princess in November and will be rolled out to all cruise ships in the entire fleet by the end of 2015.

“We know it’s important for our guests to be able to stay in touch with their fellow cruisers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “With the new Princess@Sea Messenger we’re making it even easier for them to share their experiences, stay in touch and even make new friends.”

Guests will be able to download Princess@Sea Messenger for free before sailing at the Apple or Android App Store or on board with the purchase of an internet package. Limited messaging functionality will also be available in Princess@Sea without downloading the app.

The award-winning Princess@Sea mobile app debuted aboard Royal Princess in 2013 giving guests the ability to check the day’s events and activities, review the ship’s itinerary and port guides, browse restaurant menus and even access their stateroom account.

Regal Princess begins her Caribbean cruise season on November 6 with a short preview sailing, followed by a schedule of seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises to ports including St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.40 + 0.15%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 66.93 + 0.34%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.997 - 2.61%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 36.22 - 1.55%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship's capacity was set to equal the number of seats in a 747?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Two steamship companies, one still in business, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.

Answer - There were 2 steamship companies using P&O. One was the Peninsular & Oriental Steamship Company, sailing mostly to the Orient, a British company still in existence, as a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation. The other P & O was the Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company owned by a Florida Railroad Company serving the Caribbean and Central America.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA


Cruise News - September 22, 2014

Norwegian Escape Keel Laying Held at Meyer Werft
Norwegian Cruise Line and MEYER WERFT today celebrated the keel laying of Norwegian Escape at MEYER's state of the art facility in Papenburg, Germany. During the ceremony, block 35/41, the first of 86 blocks that will comprise the 164,600 gross ton vessel, was lifted into the covered building dock, officially marking the start of the ship's construction. Norwegian Escape will be Norwegian's largest ship to date, carrying 4,200 passengers, set for delivery in October 2015.

Kevin Sheehan, laid the traditional Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer, was on hand in the dock and laid the traditional "lucky coin," before the first block, weighing 400 tons, was placed by a massive crane. A special commemorative coin featuring the ship was created to celebrate the day's activities.

"Norwegian Escape will be our largest and most innovative ship to date, building on the phenomenal success of Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway," said Sheehan. "We are looking forward to seeing this ship take shape over the next year and welcoming her to our fleet in October 2015."

Norwegian Escape is the first ship in her class, and is being built by MEYER WERFT through a highly-efficient construction process that will deliver the ship of 164,600 gross tons in just over 19 months from steel cutting to delivery.

"We are proud to begin the construction of Norwegian Cruise Line's first Breakaway Plus vessel and continue our long-standing partnership," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT. "Norwegian Escape will be a spectacular ship and it is our honor to bring the dreams and innovations of the Norwegian team to life."

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on November 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

The ship's signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife. Norwegian's newest ship is Harvey's largest canvas to date, at 1065 feet in length, with his artwork spanning from the hull to the aft featuring two undersea scenes that blend seamlessly. Norwegian Escape will boast all of the exciting and innovative features found on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, plus a number of new spaces and interactive experiences that are yet to be announced. Accommodations include the company's signature luxury ship?within-a-ship complex: The Haven by Norwegian; along with Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts and more.

RCI Names Third Quantum Ship OVATION OF THE SEAS
On the cusp of delivering the first in a new generation of technologically advanced cruise ships Royal Caribbean International marked an important milestone today as the first piece of steel was cut marking the official construction start on the third Quantum class ship.

RCI Names Third Quantum Ship OVATION OF THE SEAS The steel cutting for Ovation of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2016, took place at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, where Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and now Ovation of the Seas are being built.

The groundbreaking Quantum class ships will debut new unprecedented features, such as dancing Roboscreens in the unique Two70 entertainment venue; robotic bartenders in Bionic Bar; RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; transformative venues, such as Sea-Plex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, which offers expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations for interior staterooms.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms. Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty for her inaugural season before departing to her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China. Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton, U.K. in April 2015 sailing Mediterranean itineraries.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Third Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $1.2 billion, or $1.58 diluted EPS for the third quarter of 2014 compared to non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2013 of $1.1 billion, or $1.38 diluted EPS. For the third quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income, which included net unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $15 million, was $1.2 billion, or $1.60 diluted EPS. For the third quarter of 2013, U.S. GAAP net income, which included impairments net of unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $139 million, was $934 million, or $1.20 diluted EPS. Revenues for the third quarter of 2014 were $4.9 billion, compared with $4.7 billion the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Third Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "Strong close-in demand and higher onboard spending helped drive significantly better than expected third quarter results and 15 percent year-over-year earnings improvement. Our Asia operations performed particularly well during the quarter, driven by a double-digit yield increase in our China program, further solidifying our industry leading presence in this important emerging cruise market. Our continental European operations also enjoyed strong yield and profit improvement in the quarter, reflecting continued progress for the Costa brand. In addition, our summer Caribbean product successfully attracted nearly 20 percent more guests than the prior year, reinforcing the popularity of the world's largest cruising region," Donald added.

Key metrics for the third quarter 2014 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 1.8 percent for 3Q 2014, better than June guidance of flat to down 1 percent. Gross revenue yields increased 2.5 percent in current dollars.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 0.5 percent in constant dollars, better than June guidance of up 1 to 2 percent due to the timing of certain expenses. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 5.8 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 3.5 percent to $650 per metric ton for 3Q 2014 from $674 per metric ton in 3Q 2013 and were less than June guidance of $673 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased over 3 percent in 3Q 2014 compared to the prior year.

• During the third quarter, YouGov's BrandIndex ranked Carnival Cruise Lines the most-improved U.S. brand in consumer perception in its mid-year 2014 Buzz Rankings Report. A number of initiatives introduced by Carnival Cruise Lines, such as the Great Vacation Guarantee, Carnival LIVE Concert Series, Camp Ocean and Seuss at Sea, appear to be resonating with consumers. In addition, Princess Cruises recently announced an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to construct a new 3,600-berth vessel, which will enter service in 2017 based on the highly popular design platform introduced by sister ships Royal Princess and Regal Princess. In keeping with the company's strategy for measured capacity growth, this is the only newbuild scheduled to be delivered in 2017.

In June, Seabourn signed a multi-year agreement with UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) to support the organization's mission of safeguarding unique cultural and natural features around the world. That announcement came on the heels of a five year agreement to support The Nature Conservancy's global marine protection priorities. These programs, combined with the company's commitment to install exhaust gas cleaning technology on more than 70 ships, are among many initiatives underway to support the preservation of marine, environmental and cultural resources around the globe.

Outlook
Based on the strength of third quarter net revenue yields and current booking trends, the company has increased its expectations for full year 2014 net revenue yields on a constant dollar basis to be in line with the prior year, from its previous guidance of down slightly. Excluding fuel, the company expects full year net cruise costs per ALBD to be slightly higher compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis. Taking the above factors into consideration, the company has increased its forecast for full year 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.84 to $1.88, better than both June guidance of $1.60 to $1.75 and 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.58.

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at higher prices. Over the last quarter, fleetwide booking volumes for the first half of 2015 have been running ahead of the prior year at higher prices.

"The sustained improvement in booking trends as we have progressed through the year combined with yield increases in the second half of 2014 builds confidence that we will see continued yield growth in 2015 and beyond," said Donald. He also noted that new product initiatives and innovative marketing campaigns implemented across the brands over the past year are driving the improvement in consumer demand and pricing trends. vFor fiscal 2015, net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD are expected to increase approximately three percent due primarily to a significantly higher level of dry-dock days scheduled next year to install new air emissions technology as well as other technology designed to improve fuel efficiency. The company expects the exhaust gas cleaning system or scrubber technology will be installed on approximately 70 percent of its fleet by 2016, thus enabling the company to meet the 2015 stricter air emissions standards as well as mitigate escalating fuel costs that will result from the new requirements. The company anticipates the new regulations will result in higher fuel costs in 2015 of approximately $0.10 per share with that increase expected to be reduced by half in 2016 and mostly offset in 2017 based on the system roll-out. Also, in 2016, the company will revert back to a more normalized dry-dock schedule, which will offset approximately half of the increase in 2015 net cruise costs excluding fuel.

"Our implementation of the air emissions technology is a sound investment in our company's future and more importantly it will benefit the environment for years to come," said Donald. "These technology investments are laying a solid foundation towards sustainable earnings improvement. Combined with our other strategic initiatives designed to foster revenue growth and contain costs, we are gaining momentum towards our goal of achieving double digit returns on investment over time," Donald added.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Outlook
Fourth quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be up 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the fourth quarter are expected to be lower by 1.0 to 2.0 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year.

Based on the above factors, the company expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the fourth quarter 2014 to be in the range of $0.15 to $0.19 per share versus 2013 non-GAAP earnings of $0.04 per share.

Carnival Epands China Operations
Carnival Corporation today announced Alan Buckelew, Chief Operations Officer, will be expanding his leadership role by relocating to China to more closely oversee the company's growing operations in the country.

"As the world's largest cruise company with a portfolio of nine industry-leading global cruise lines, we are the clear market leader in China and very well positioned to continue working with officials in China to help the country meet its goal of becoming one of the most important cruise markets in the world," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. "Today's announcement underscores our deep commitment to China as a market of great strategic importance for our company. Alan is one of the most respected leaders in the industry and having him on the ground in China will add great strength to our operation and growth opportunities in China."

In addition to Costa Serena, Princess Cruises -- another iconic Carnival Corporation brand -- began home-porting the Sapphire Princess out of Shanghai this past summer.Buckelew's experience in Asia is extensive, previously serving as the CEO of Princess Cruises before taking on the assignment of Chief Operations Officer for Carnival Corporation & plc. In his expanded role, he will lead all of the company's initiatives in China, while also continuing to provide oversight of all maritime and port operations around the world and a number of related functions as part of his COO role.

"We are excited about our cruise ships currently serving the Chinese market and the vast potential to grow our business in China in the months and years to come," Buckelew said. "Our team in China is dedicated and passionate about delivering a unique experience designed to exceed the expectations of every guest who boards one of our ships."

This past May, the company announced Costa Serena will deploy year-round in China next year, making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with four ships based in China, one of the world's fastest-growing cruise markets. Costa Cruises plans to debut Costa Serena in Shanghai in April 2015, where it will join Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica, sister ships already deployed in China. The move will increase Costa's overall capacity in Asia by 74 percent.

In addition to Costa Serena, Princess Cruises -- another iconic Carnival Corporation brand -- began home-porting the Sapphire Princess out of Shanghai this past summer.

Adding a third ship based in China this year increases Carnival Corporation's total 2014 capacity in the country by 66 percent. In 2015, with four ships based in China for the first time, Carnival's industry-leading capacity is expected to jump 140 percent over a two-year period.

"As we execute our strategy to accelerate growth in China, we have the benefit of eight years of experience in China to not only help guide our expansion, but also find unique ways to delight our guests with the joy of cruising," Buckelew said.

With a career spanning more than 37 years in the cruise industry, Buckelew served as chief executive officer of Princess Cruises from June 2007 and served as the line's president since February 2004. In addition, he also served as chief operating officer for Cunard Line from 2004 to 2007.

Buckelew has a breadth of experience across cruise operations, having served as executive vice president responsible for Princess's strategic planning, marketing and yield management services. Before that, he held various other high-level executive positions in customer service, shared services and yield management. He also held roles as chief information officer and chief financial officer of Princess.

Buckelew served in US Army in 1969 and 1970. He holds an MBA and bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Princess to Celebrate 50th Anniversary with First-Ever Float in The Rose Parade
Princess Cruises will ring in the new year and its 50th anniversary in an unprecedented way – with its first-ever float in the world-famous Rose Parade on January 1 in Pasadena, Calif. As a special feature the six original cast members of The Love Boat television show will ride on the ship’s bow and “cruise” down the five-and-a-half mile parade route.

In addition to paying tribute to the television show that made Princess Cruises one of the most famous names in cruising, the Rose Parade float will depict the line’s newest ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through the world’s fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks that guests have experienced with Princess for the past 50 years.

Princess to Celebrate 50th Anniversary with First-Ever Float in The Rose Parade“Since the theme of this year’s Rose Parade is ‘Inspiring Stories,’ we can think of no more perfect opportunity to launch our 50th anniversary year celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “For the last five decades of our guests sailing with us to amazing places, they’ve returned with inspiring memories that have lasted a lifetime, and we want to celebrate this on the very first day of 2015.”

She added that because The Love Boat played such a distinctive part in the company’s history, including the cast members on the Rose Parade float was fun opportunity to pay tribute to the television show that introduced Princess Cruises and modern-day cruising to millions of Americans for ten years from 1977 to 1986.

The Love Boat cast, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Chief Purser Gopher), Ted Lange (Bartender Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Captain’s daughter Vicki), will have just officially named Regal Princess, having served as the ship’s godparents prior to their appearance in the New Year’s Day parade.

Famous for being held under sunny skies when much of the country is experiencing winter weather, the Rose Parade is viewed by some 700,000 spectators lining the parade route, and by approximately 80 million viewers on television around the globe. It is part of “America’s New Year Celebration®” and includes numerous floral floats, spirited marching bands and high-stepping equestrian units.

The Princess Cruises float, being designed and built by Phoenix Decorating Company, will be 60 feet long and 24 feet high, and will be covered by more than 24,000 thousand flowers and natural materials.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.341 + 2.36%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 66.70 + 0.41%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.07 + 2.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 36.79 + 0.96%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Two steamship companies, one still in business, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - The SS Oceanic of 1965 was the first ship to have a "magrodome" cover over a swimming pool. She was built for Home Lines serving Bermuda and the Bahamas out of New York City. She later sailed for Premier Cruise Lines as the "Big Red Boat".
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA


Cruise News - September 15, 2014

HAL Names 2016 Pinnacle Class Ship ms Koningsdam
Holland America Line revealed the name of its new 99,500-ton cruise ship slated for delivery in February 2016 will be ms Koningsdam. While the name pays homage to the company's rich heritage and deep roots in the Netherlands, it also reflects a new era with a bold name that is an original in Holland America Line's 141-year history. The 2,650-passenger ship is an evolution in design for the line — a new Pinnacle Class — and is being built at Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard.

HAL Names 2016 Pinnacle Class Ship ms KoningsdamSince 1883 every Holland America passenger vessel has borne the "dam" suffix, and ms Koningsdam carries on that tradition. The word koning means "king" in Dutch, and the name celebrates the majestic new ship. The name also pays honor to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, the first king of the Netherlands in over a century.

Holland America Line has a long, proud history with the Netherlands. All 15 premium cruise ships fly the Dutch flag as they sail throughout the world, to more than 400 ports of call. The historic greatness of the line's Dutch heritage is shared with nearly one million guests each year. And the line has many Dutch employees, including most of the fleet's captains and officers.

Many of Holland America Line's ships have been christened by members of the Dutch Royal Family over the past 75 years. Most recently, ms Nieuw Amsterdam was christened by Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima in 2010. And in 2008 ms Eurodam was christened by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

"In choosing the name Koningsdam, we are honoring our rich Dutch heritage while reflecting that we're entering a new era as a company," said Stein Kruse, chief executive officer of the Holland America Group. "This new Pinnacle Class ship will be our largest, most contemporary vessel, and it was only fitting to give it a name that embodies great achievement for the future, while embracing timeless tradition."

Holland America Line was founded in the Netherlands in 1873 as the Netherlands-American Steamship Company headquartered in Rotterdam. The original headquarters building still stands today as the Hotel New York on the Wilhelmina Pier, with the company's European headquarters located nearby.

When it debuts in February 2016, ms Koningsdam will be a new type of ship for Holland America Line. At 99,500 gross tons and carrying 2,650 guests and 1,025 crew members, the vessel is the largest ever built for the company. The increased size provides more opportunities to add new public spaces and venues, and several innovative features will debut on ms Koningsdam. Familiar spaces and amenities currently featured across the Holland America Line fleet will also be found on the new ship.

To bring a fresh vision to ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped Adam D. Tihany, one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany joins distinguished maritime designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten who worked with Holland America Line on ms Nieuw Amsterdam and ms Eurodam. The two firms will create a modern and contemporary ambiance while incorporating Holland America Line's classic hallmarks.

U.S. Cruise Industry Saw Continued Growth in 2013
New data released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) show that the North American cruise industry continued to expand in 2013, generating employment, income, and other economic benefits throughout the U.S. economy.

"Taking a cruise is hands down one of the best vacation values available today for consumers," said Christine Duffy, CLIA President and CEO. "This study shows the cruise industry is also an important economic contributor, supporting businesses and jobs across America, from travel agents who help their clients select from a diverse array of exciting cruise choices, to the businesses in every state that provide products and services to cruise lines."

Ms. Duffy noted that on a global basis, over the ten years from 2003 to 2013, demand for cruising worldwide has increased 77 percent, from 12 million to 21.3 million passengers. Globally, cruise industry expenditures generated $117 billion in total output, requiring 891,009 full-time equivalent employees who earned $38.47 billion in income.

The independent report commissioned by CLIA from Business Research and Economic Advisers (BREA), The Contribution of the North American Cruise Industry to the U.S. Economy in 2013, found that:

• Total contributions of the cruise industry to the U.S. economy in 2013 reached a record $44.1 billion

• The cruise industry supported 363,133 U.S. jobs, in every state, paying wages of $18.3 billion

• Nearly 10 million cruise passengers embarked at U.S. ports, representing 57% of the North American cruise industry's global embarkations

• U.S.-based direct spending by cruise lines, passengers, and crew totaled $20.1 billion, nearly double expenditures made in 2000

• Nearly 70% of the cruise industry's non-wage expenditures were made with U.S.-based businesses

U.S. Cruise Industry Saw Continued Growth in 2013The BREA study found that the positive impacts of the cruise industry are found in every state, ranging from 3,227 jobs and $138 million in direct purchases in Missouri, to more than 140,400 jobs and over $7.3 billion in direct purchases in Florida.

The top 10 U.S. cruise ports accounted for 86 percent of embarkations. Florida remains the center of cruising in the United States, with its five cruise ports accounting for nearly 62 percent of all U.S. embarkations in 2013. California, Texas, and New York each had more than 600,000 embarkations.

Other findings from the 2013 U.S. report include:

• Peach State residents are among the U.S.' biggest cruise fans, with 239,000 Georgians enjoying a cruise last year.

• Nearly one million cruise passengers visited Alaska, supporting jobs for 18,938 Alaskans with $866 million in wages via $993 million in direct expenditures.

• 335,000 passengers and crew visited Massachusetts, generating $491 million in direct spending and 7,876 jobs.

Full report is available here

David Dingle Appointed Chairman of Carnival UK
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced that David Dingle has been appointed chairman of Carnival UK and David Noyes, currently executive vice president operations, has been promoted to the CEO role, with operating responsibility for the UK-based brands P&O Cruises and Cunard Line. Dingle and Noyes will take up their new roles on October 1, and will both report to Carnival Corporation & plc president and CEO Arnold Donald.

David Dingle Appointed Chairman of Carnival UK"This moves allows us to strengthen further our overall leadership in the critically important UK marketplace, while also promoting from within to leverage the skills, experience and capabilities of our executive team," said Donald.

Dingle, who became CEO in 2007, joined P&O Cruises in London in 1978 where, after holding a series of commercial positions, he became managing director in 2000. At the time of the merger of P&O Princess Cruises plc and the Carnival Corporation in April 2003, he became managing director of Carnival UK.

Noyes joined Carnival UK in 2011, in his current position. Prior to joining Carnival, he worked in the UK travel industry for 25 years, mainly with British Airways, where he was responsible for BA's worldwide customer services operation, and latterly with Gray Dawes Travel as CEO.

Elaine Holt will join Carnival UK on October 1 as David Noyes' replacement as executive vice president operations following a highly successful career in the rail, road and airline industries. She has led a series of transformational programmes as executive chairman of East Coast Mainline and before that as managing director of First Capital Connect. Most recently she has acted as a non executive director of the Highways Agency.

Commenting on the appointments, David Dingle said:

"David Noyes is exceptionally placed to lead P&O Cruises and Cunard into the future and grow the business for the next generation. Elaine brings with her a strong blend of operational and customer services skills and will be a very valuable addition to our executive team."

Dingle is a former President of The UK Chamber of Shipping and the European Cruise Council (now CLIA Europe) and continues to serve on the boards of both groups. In 2009, he joined the board of the European Community Shipowners Association. He has previously served as a director of the Association of British Travel Agents and The UK Passenger Shipping Association.

Holland America Details 2014-15 Caribbean Season
Travelers looking for an intimate, mid-sized cruise experience in the Caribbean have 126 itineraries to choose from during Holland America Line’s 2014-15 Caribbean season. Featuring nine of the line’s vessels sailing roundtrip from either Fort Lauderdale or Tampa, Fla., the cruises span the Caribbean on eastern, western and southern routes, as well as partial transits of the Panama Canal. The diverse itineraries visit 30 ports and give discerning guests more options than any other premium line exploring the region.

From October 2014 through April 2015, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Ryndam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam sail regular Caribbean voyages, while ms Amsterdam and ms Prinsendam each sail one December holiday cruise in the region. The ships feature 21 different seven-, 10-, 11- and 14-day itineraries that can be combined into longer Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 25 days. All Fort Lauderdale departures feature a call at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island known for its pristine beaches, diverse shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and kid-friendly activities.

“With our elegant mid-sized ships and wide variety of onboard activities, Holland America Line is a leader in the Caribbean’s premium cruise market,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest relations. “We carefully plan our itineraries to highlight the best ports in the region, including our award-winning private island, Half Moon Cay.”

Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries During the season, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itinerariesRoundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries During the season, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries that can be combined to form a 14-day Collectors’ Voyage spanning both regions. Maasdam sails 10-day eastern routes, as well as longer 11- and 14-day southern itineraries. Noordam also features 10- and 11-day southern Caribbean cruises ideal for guests looking for a longer vacation.

In addition to the 14-day Collectors’ Voyages, the itineraries can be combined to form a diverse range of options, including an 18-day southern and western cruise on Noordam, a 21-day southern and eastern option on Maasdam and a 25-day nonrepeating double-southern route on Maasdam.

New for 2015, Noordam, Eurodam and Ryndam have added more dates to their already-robust schedules, giving guests expanded options from which to choose.

Partial Panama Canal Transits - Guests looking to explore the lakes and locks of the Panama Canal without going through to the West Coast can embark on a convenient roundtrip Fort Lauderdale partial transit aboard Maasdam or Zuiderdam. The ships make their way to Gatun Lake and spend a few hours before returning back through the locks. During the 10-, 11- or 14-day departures the ships also visit several Caribbean ports. The partial transit itineraries can be combined with other Caribbean cruises to form a Collectors’ Voyage of up to 25 days.

Roundtrip Tampa Itineraries - Ryndam spends the Caribbean season cruising roundtrip from Tampa on seven-day western and 14-day southern itineraries. The two options can be combined to form a 21-day western/southern Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage. The ship makes a maiden call at Banana Coast, Honduras, and also visits Puerto Rico, Antigua, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curaçao, Guatemala, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Key West, Fla.

Celebrate the Season with a Festive Holiday Cruise - For travelers who like to get away from the hustle, and chill of December, the holiday season is a special time onboard. A total of 15 holiday sailings will ply the warm waters of the Caribbean on itineraries ranging from seven to 14 days. Several non-repeating itineraries can be combined to form a grand Holiday Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests looking to explore the Caribbean on Prinsendam and Amsterdam during the holidays can embark on their only Caribbean sailings of the season. Prinsendam leaves Dec. 18 on a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise to the southern Caribbean. The 16-day itinerary includes 10 ports and stretches from Half Moon Cay to Tobago. Departing Dec. 22, Amsterdam sails a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise on a 14-day southern Caribbean cruise.

During the holiday cruises, guests can take part in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, enjoy traditional holiday meals with all of the trimmings and indulge in a special Royal Dutch High Tea with fanciful holiday cookies and pastries. The ships’ international crew chorus performs a magical holiday show, while caroling and sing-alongs take place around the ship. Kids will delight in a visit from Santa Claus and holiday-themed crafts.

The New Year’s Eve sailings are the ideal setting to ring in a new year, featuring a festive holiday ball with a champagne toast.

Princess Cruises Launches New "Seawitch" Craft Beer
Princess Cruises Launches New Seawitch Craft BeerPrincess Cruises is pouring a new craft beer to toast its upcoming 50th anniversary. The "Seawitch" West Coast IPA beer – playfully named for the company's iconic logo – was developed exclusively for Princess Cruises, in partnership with award-winning Strike Brewing Company, and is the first in the line's new series of craft beers. The brew will be introduced aboard Regal Princess when the cruise ship debuts in Florida for a season of Caribbean cruises this November.

"We know our guests love distinct experiences and authentic flavors so we're excited to debut a new craft beer series with this special 50th anniversary blend aboard our newest ship," said Jonathan Wilson, Princess Cruises vice president of food and beverage services. "The Seawitch West Coast IPA not only commemorates our milestone anniversary, but is also meant to inspire our guests to celebrate their sea journeys with Princess."

Strike Brewing Company, located near San Francisco - one of Princess Cruises' home ports – is an award-winning microbrewery well known to fans of local craft beer. The Seawitch West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale) features the balanced aroma of lightly roasted malt and barley which is strongly accented by the crisp dry flavor of a unique hop blend.

The Seawitch West Coast IPA will retail for $6.25 and be available in bars and lounges throughout Regal Princess. It is expected to be available fleetwide by early 2015.

The cruise line will roll out additional Seawitch craft beers in partnerships with regional breweries that specialize in local flavors and represent some of the cruise destinations Princess ships visit.

Princess Cruises will officially kick off its 50th anniversary year with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on Nov. 5 in Ft. Lauderdale. The company is honoring the role the The Love Boat played in its five-decades-long history by having the original Love Boat cast members serve as godparents for its newest cruise ship.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.41 + 0.74%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 66.43 + 0.03%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 - 0.99%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 36.440 + 0.94%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which cruise ship survived being struck by a 100 foot high rogue wave while approaching Casablanca during her world cruise of 1976? She rolled an estimated 40 degrees but was able to right herself.

Answer - The ship in question is the Rotterdam (V) of Holland America Line.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA


Cruise News - September 8, 2014

Engine Problems Force Celebrity To Cancel Cruise
Celebrity Cruises announced this week that they have canceled Celebrity Constellation's November 21st three-night Bahamas voyage due to problems with the ship's diesel engine.

Engine Problems Force Celebrity To Cancel Cruise"We need to replace a large component of Celebrity Constellation's diesel engine that can only be done in dry dock," Cynthia Martinez, director of global corporate communications for parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said in a statement.

"Due to the shipyard's availability, we decided to cancel the short cruise so that we could perform the work in November." Martinez added the problem with the diesel engine is not affecting current Constellation sailings.

"The ship has been using the two gas turbine engines instead of the diesel engine. There has been no impact to the ship's top speed."

Passengers can rebook in like accommodations at the protected/lowest available rate on cruises departing January 5th or 24th, February 7th or 21st, or March 7th. Those who rebook will receive $100 on-board credit per standard stateroom or $200 per suite.

Passengers who rebook and incur a fee due to the change in their airline reservations will be reimbursed up to $200 per person. Those who cancel will get a full refund but no credit or airline change fee.

Celebrity Constellation is expected to resume service November 24th from Port Everglades on a five-night western Caribbean cruise.

P&O Announces 2016 World Voyages
Set sail on an epic adventure with P&O Cruises’ new World Journeys to discover some of the most iconic destinations on the planet.

Aurora’s 114-night World Circumnavigation visits 38 ports in 24 countriesA trio of grand sailings, comprising a classic world cruise on Aurora; a South America & Japan sailing on Arcadia; and a Caribbean & America voyage on Oriana, will showcase some of the world’s most unforgettable sights and its most exciting cities.

Collectively, the ships will cover over 90,000 nautical miles, visiting 90 ports in 58 countries, contrasting the Latin spirit of South America with the mysticism of the Orient and the heritage of America’s Deep South.

All three ships will stay overnight in key cities including New Orleans, San Francisco and Hong Kong, giving passengers two days to explore ashore, while evening port stays have also been built into itineraries to allow longer days for extra sightseeing.

Aurora’s 114-night World Circumnavigation visits 38 ports in 24 countries, including iconic cities and sights such as Sydney, Cape Town and Hong Kong, plus Table Mountain, the Great Barrier Reef and Pearl Harbour. There are also maiden calls at The Gambia, Philippines, Taiwan, Lahaina (Hawaii), Malaysia and the Seychelles. The round-trip Southampton voyage departs on January 2, 2016, with prices from £10,849 per person.

Arcadia’s 115-night South America & Japan Adventure visits 32 ports in 19 countries, including headline cities and landmarks such as Rio de Janeiro, Beijing and San Francisco, plus Easter Island, Panama Canal and the Great Wall of China. Maiden calls are Papua New Guinea, Hilo (Hawaii), South Korea, Cape Verde, Falkland Islands and Tauranga (New Zealand). The round-trip Southampton voyage departs on January 11, 2016, with prices from £10,949 per person.

Oriana’s 50-night Caribbean & American Adventure visits 20 ports in 15 countries, and features iconic ports such as New Orleans, Charleston, Key West and Miami with a maiden call at Progreso (Mexico). The round-trip Southampton sailing departs on January 6, 2016, with prices from £3,999 per person.

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “At P&O Cruises, we pride ourselves on creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our customers and these sailings do just that by bringing the world to their feet.

“Customers can choose between a full world cruise offering a true lifetime experience or one of the many shorter sectors for an exotic winter holiday with a difference. If you are looking for adventure and you want inspiration, these sailings open up a world of possibilities that few other experiences can match.”

Royal Caribbean Announces Anthem of the Seas Entertainment
Royal Caribbean International is once again shaking things up on the high seas. The first cruise line to feature fully licensed, Tony Award-winning Broadway productions today announced that guests onboard the highly-anticipated Anthem of the Seas will party to We Will Rock You – the smash hit musical featuring the greatest hits of legendary British rock group, Queen – when she sails from Southampton, England in April 2015. Written by British comedian Ben Elton, the hilarious award-winning, record-breaking phenomenon boasts a score of killer Queen tunes such as “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and of course, “We Will Rock You.”

Royal Caribbean Announces Anthem of the Seas Entertainment“On our new Quantum-class, guests can expect an entertainment experience that transcends anything they’ve ever seen before, and We Will Rock You is no exception,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “We’re thrilled to bring the timeless rock ballads of Queen to our most appropriately named ship.”

Built around 24 of Queen’s greatest hits, We Will Rock You tells the story of a group of Bohemians who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion and live music in a distant future where everyone dresses, thinks and does the same. Musical instruments and composers are forbidden, and rock music is all but unknown. We Will Rock You has proven itself as one of the London West End’s most solid hits since opening in May 2002, going on to become a worldwide sensation. The show has now been seen in local productions in 17 countries, playing to an audience of more than 15 million people.

Additionally, guests sailing on the cruise line’s Adventure of the Seas will be able to experience a limited time engagement of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Tell Me on a Sunday, running through November 2, 2014.

As part of Royal Caribbean’s Broadway at Sea offerings, guests of the cruise line can take in performances featuring the storytelling of ABBA’s timeless songs in MAMMA MIA! on Quantum of the Seas, the 60’s-inspired bebop of Hairspray and one of the world’s most beloved musicals CATS on Oasis of the Seas, the jazz-infused score of Chicago: The Musical on Allure of the Seas, the toe-tapping disco beats of Saturday Night Fever on Liberty of the Seas, and now, We Will Rock You on the new Anthem of the Seas and Tell Me on a Sunday on Adventure of the Seas.

Britain’s Biggest Cruise Ship Takes Art To A New Dimension
P&O Cruises’ new ship Britannia will boast Britain’s largest floating art collection, containing more than 8,000 artworks, when it launches in March next year.

Britain’s Biggest Cruise Ship Takes Art To A New DimensionThe multi-million art collection represents a new approach by the company with works having been chosen to complement and enhance Britannia’s interior designs to give the feel of a luxury hotel.

Pieces ranging from paintings and bronze sculptures to ceramics and paper wall reliefs have been created by a wide variety of artists – most of them British – with some from as far afield as Japan, Australia and South Africa.

Most of the artists are women, a factor which art consultant Tom Tempest-Radford – who has compiled the collection in conjunction with Britannia’s designers Richmond International – credits with bringing a different feel to the ship.

“Women are better at surfaces and textures and Britannia has a huge variety of really crafted materials that create an incredible depth of flavour,” he said.

Artisans have varied from painters and potters to sculptors and ceramicists, along with jewellers, goldsmiths and silversmiths. Some have made single artworks for Britannia, while others have made hundreds or even thousands which, in some cases, has involved an entirely new approach to create bespoke pieces.

The decision to integrate Britannia’s artworks with its interior style has ensured a consistency of design and attention to detail that runs throughout the ship, creating a sophisticated, yet comfortable, ambience.

Tom Tempest-Radford explained: “Most of the artworks are abstract and people will regard this as modern, but they will be amazed at how it works seamlessly together. It is based on the sea and music and the whole thing together is a symphony.”

He added: “Britannia is going to be very different to other P&O Cruises ships and it will set a new standard, which could make it a game-changer.”

Carnival Legend Marks Equator Crossing with Traditional Maritime Ceremony
Carnival Legend Marks Equator Crossing with Traditional Maritime Ceremony Guests and crew aboard the Carnival Legend – in the midst of a 23-day trans-Pacific repositioning cruise to Australia – participated in a centuries-old maritime tradition held to commemorate a ship’s crossing of the equator.

On September 7 at 3 p.m., the Carnival Legend’s horn bellowed, summoning everyone to the Lido Deck for the time-honored ceremony.

Accompanied by a band of friendly pirates, Carnival Legend Cruise Director Eli Sharplin – dressed as King Neptune as per nautical tradition – volunteered to have his head shaved by none other than Captain Giuseppe Gazzano.  The spectacle was witnessed by hundreds of mariners who gathered on deck.

Following the ceremony, the former Carnival Legend “pollywogs” – or novice sailors – were bestowed the new title of “trusty shellback” in recognition of their distinction of crossing the equator.

Carnival Legend arrives in Sydney September 22 and will begin a seasonal program of eight- to 12-day cruises from Down Under on September 24, 2014.

Fall: A Choice Time to Cruise
This fall, cruisers can see Mother Nature put on one of her best shows with colorful leaves as far as the eye can see, on sailings on the coast of New England and Canada. Cruise passengers can also celebrate Halloween complete with ghosts and ghouls and enjoy elaborate shipboard Thanksgiving feasts.

Fall: A Choice Time to CruiseFall is also the time when cruise lines reposition their ships from summer to winter homes, including Alaska and Europe to warm destinations, and these repositioning cruises provide both unusual itineraries (with a combination of port calls and days at sea) and attractive prices.

Here are some fall cruising ideas:

See fall foliage - Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, American Cruise Lines, Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are among cruise lines with fall sailings in New England/Canada, embarking from cities including Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Bayonne (New Jersey), Montreal, Quebec City and Baltimore. Leaf-peeping combines with such delights as whale-watching, eating lobster, seeing lighthouses and absorbing American history. Some of the cruises are one-way and others roundtrip with sailings ranging from five to 22 days.

Celebrate all things spooky - Disney Cruise Lines' Halloween on the High Seas expands this year, with the whole fleet featuring themed decorations, activities and events from late September through October. Try "Spooky Juice" and spider cakes, hear haunted stories under the stars, watch scary movies and participate in the "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream" experience – where you can meet Jack Skellington and Sally. Bring a costume or make one shipboard.

Or join the group KISS and rock out on KISS Kruise IV onboard the Norwegian Pearl, embarking October 31. This year's cruise includes a Halloween pre-party on the ship on October 30. During the sailing, theme nights include KISS Around The World, Dress As Your Favorite KISS Song, I Was There and Dressed to Kill. Pack your face paint, costumes and suncreen.

Give thanks at sea - Thanksgiving cruises allow you to say goodbye to holiday stress and relax at a time during the year when vacation-goers need it most.

On Princess ships, the shipboard chefs prepare dinner with all the traditional fixings for an easy, yet festive feast.

Make Thanksgiving memorable with a holiday cruise on Crystal Cruises' Crystal Symphony in Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, or Crystal Serenity in the sunny Caribbean. Both ships will host an elaborate holiday celebration onboard.

Or treat the family to Thanksgiving on a Disney ship and enjoy a wide array of holiday festivities – including a traditional turkey dinner and college football offerings. The line's four ships will be decked out with holiday decor – even including special Thanksgiving towel animals in staterooms. Mickey and other characters will of course wear their holiday attire.

Help feed the hungry when booking a holiday cruise on American Cruise Lines. The line is making a donation of $50 to the Connecticut Food Bank for every booking on the Thanksgiving sailings of the Queen of the Mississippi, cruising from New Orleans to Memphis, and the Independence, sailing from Jacksonville, Fla. to Charleston, S.C. Both ships will feature a feast of Thanksgiving favorites.

Do a repositioning cruise - You can typically snag a deal when a cruise line moves a ship from one destination to another for a season and that's certainly the case this fall – with ships repositioning from places including Alaska, Europe and Bermuda to the Caribbean, South Pacific, Asia and South America for the winter season. Some of the itineraries cut from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Panama Canal. Transatlantic itineraries include port calls at fascinating cities in Europe, while transpacific cruises can get you to the tropical paradise islands of French Polynesia.

Royal Caribbean Raises Dividend
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today declared a $0.05 increase in the quarterly cash dividend to $0.30 per common share payable on October 2, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 22, 2014. This move, which was approved unanimously at the board's September 9th meeting reflects the company's continuing efforts to increase shareholder returns.

Today's actions represent a 20% increase to the previous $0.25 per common share dividend level. "Dividends continue to be an important component of total shareholder return," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "This dividend increase was made possible by the efforts of the overall organization to continue to improve our financial position. It demonstrates our commitment to increasing shareholder value and our confidence in our ability to continue to grow returns in the future."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.12 + 3.08%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 66.41 + 3.17%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.03 + 4.48%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 36.10 - 2.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship survived being struck by a 100 foot high rogue wave while approaching Casablanca during her world cruise of 1976? She rolled an estimated 40 degrees but was able to right herself.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - American Export Lines operated a quartet of popular combination ships following the Second World War. The ships were known as the "Four Aces". What were the names of these ships.

Answer - Exochorda, Excalibar, Excambion and the Exeter were the "Four Aces" of the American Export Line after WW II and well into the 50"s.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA


Cruise News - September 1, 2014

NCL Acquires Oceania & Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Agrees to Acquire Prestige Cruises International, Inc. for $3.025 Billion

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. ("Norwegian Cruise Line" or "Norwegian," (NASDAQ: NCLH)), a leading global cruise operator, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Prestige Cruises International, Inc. ("Prestige"), the market leader in the upscale cruise segment and parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in cash and stock for a total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion, including the assumption of debt.

NCL Acquires Oceania & Regent Seven Seas Cruises"The acquisition of Prestige represents an extraordinary opportunity for Norwegian Cruise Line to expand our market presence by adding two established, award-winning brands in the upscale cruise segment with loyal followings," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Not only does this acquisition immediately enhance our financial performance, but it also deepens the bench of talent that we have been developing over the years. Our complementary strengths and skillsets will pave the way for new cross-selling opportunities, cross-brand collaboration, cross-business support, as well as joint partnerships which, coupled with meaningful synergies that can be quickly implemented, will provide solid accretion to earnings per share and drive long-term shareholder value," added Sheehan.

"We are excited to become part of the Norwegian family and start a new chapter for our company," said Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige. "With Oceania and Regent, we have built iconic brands with distinctive product offerings and strong customer loyalty. The combination is very compelling and will allow us to further enhance our renowned guest experience. We are looking forward to joining the Norwegian team and building upon the success that our three brands have already achieved."

Prestige operates eight ships and approximately 6,500 berths under two segment-leading brands. Oceania Cruises is the market leader in the upper-premium cruise segment with five ships offering destination-oriented cruise vacations to more than 330 ports around the globe, gourmet culinary experiences, elegant accommodations and personalized service. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the market leader in the luxury cruise segment and operates three award-winning, all-suite ships, with an additional ship on order for delivery in summer 2016. Regent offers the industry's most inclusive luxury vacation experience visiting over 250 destinations worldwide. Frank Del Rio will remain chief executive officer of Prestige.

"The combination of three distinct brands, each serving a different market segment, under one umbrella immediately creates an industry-leading cruise operator with an unmatched growth trajectory and a portfolio of products that allows us to appeal to guests at every stage of their life cycle," added Sheehan. "We are fully committed to retaining the brand propositions, guest experiences and cultures of the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands that have allowed each to realize such success."

Transaction Rationale

The compelling rationale to acquire Prestige includes:
• The diversification of cruise market segments by adding upper premium and luxury brands;
• The further enhancement of industry-leading financial metrics;
• Opportunities for synergies and the sharing of best practices among brands;
• An increase in economies of scale providing greater operational leverage;
• The expansion of growth trajectory and global footprint; and
• The opportunity to complement Norwegian's new build program with the existing Regent order that provides measured, orderly capacity growth through 2019.

Transaction Details

The total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion includes the assumption of debt. Additionally, a contingent cash consideration of up to $50 million to Prestige shareholders would be payable upon achievement of certain 2015 performance metrics.

In early July, Norwegian's Board of Directors formed a Transaction Committee and delegated it full authority to negotiate and approve a transaction. The Committee consisted entirely of disinterested directors. Genting Hong Kong Limited and certain funds affiliated with TPG Capital, each of whose consent was required pursuant to Norwegian's existing shareholders' agreement have consented to the transaction. The Transaction Committee, who retained its own financial and legal advisors, has unanimously approved the transaction. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Norwegian will finance the acquisition with existing cash, new and existing debt facilities and the issuance of approximately 20.3 million shares of its common stock. Pursuant to the requirements of NASDAQ Rule 5635, holders of a majority of Norwegian's common stock have consented to the issuance of such shares.

Barclays is acting as lead financial advisor to Norwegian, Deloitte Consulting, LLP is acting as diligence advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is providing legal counsel. UBS Investment Bank is acting as financial advisor to Prestige and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is providing legal counsel. Perella Weinberg Partners is acting as financial advisor to the Transaction Committee of the Norwegian Board of Directors and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is providing legal counsel. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank are also serving as financial advisors to Norwegian. Barclays, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank have provided committed financing to Norwegian to support the acquisition.

Celebrity Century Sold To Chinese Operator - Ctrip
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that it has entered into an agreement to sell its cruise ship Celebrity Century to Exquisite Marine Ltd., a holding company led by Ctrip.com International Ltd. The sale will result in a non-cash loss of approximately $20 million dollars. This loss will be excluded from our adjusted net income in our third quarter results. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will continue to operate Celebrity Century until April 2015.

Celebrity Century Sold To Chinese Operator - Ctrip"Since its inaugural sailing, Celebrity Century has created many wonderful memories for hundreds of thousands of guests, and we expect this successful history to continue as she transitions to the Chinese cruise market," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The vessel's sale is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Ctrip, and will generate strong value for both companies' shareholders."

Celebrity Century will complete its scheduled sailings through the March 22, 2015, itinerary. The 15-night, Dubai to Rome sailing on April 5, 2015 is being redeployed to a 14-night sailing from Dubai to Singapore. Guests with affected individual bookings and named group bookings on Celebrity Century's April 5, 2015 sailing from Dubai to Rome have the option to either cancel their booking and receive a full refund or move to an alternative sailing and receive a re-accommodation onboard credit as well as compensation to cover air change fees. Guests with reservations affected by the transition will be proactively contacted by Celebrity Cruises. Guests and Travel Agents with specific questions are welcome to call 1-888-283-7275.

Celebrity Century joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in December 1995, and was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. The 71,545-ton ship carries 1,814 guests (double occupancy) and 860 crew.

"China is becoming one of the largest cruise markets in the world," said Min Fan, Vice Chairman of the Board and President of Ctrip. "As the largest cruise agency in China, Ctrip has sent over 120,000 guests to cruise trips so far and acquired more than 10% of market share in China. We are excited about the strong growth of the cruise industry and strive to strengthen our leadership in this market.

"We are thrilled about our acquisition of Celebrity Century, which is one of the top-tier vessels in the world," Min Fan continued," Century will be renovated to provide an outstanding cruise experience to China's leisure travelers, including premium hotel services, diversified dining options, exciting on-board facilities, varieties of entertainments, and inspiring excursions and tours. Ctrip will capitalize on our strong brand, large customer base, and superior service quality, as well as our partner's extensive cruise operating experience to generate great value to our customers and shareholders."

Carnival Liberty to San Juan; Carnival Valor to Port Canaveral
Carnival Liberty to San Juan; Carnival Valor to Port CanaveralBeginning in March 2015, the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Valor will swap homeports with the Carnival Liberty shifting to San Juan to operate year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises, a program currently operated by Carnival Valor.  At the same time, Carnival Valor will shift to Port Canaveral to take over Carnival Liberty’s program of five to eight-day year-round Caribbean cruises.

Carnival Liberty’s San Juan-based schedule kicks off March 29, 2015, with an itinerary featuring day-long visits to six tropical destinations:  St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten, each featuring gorgeous beaches, a distinctive island ambiance and a variety of water sports.

Carnival Valor will launch a five- to eight-day schedule from Port Canaveral March 27, 2015.  Five-day cruises call at Nassau, Freeport and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay or Key West, while seven-day Caribbean voyages visit Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya or St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau. Two different eight-day itineraries will be offered – one featuring Grand Turk, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and San Juan, and another calling at Aruba, Curacao or Bonaire, and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor and Carnival Liberty will also operate two special voyages in March 2015 in preparation for their new homeport deployments.   Carnival Liberty will offer a four-port, seven-day voyage from Port Canaveral to San Juan March 22-29, 2015, calling at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and Tortola.  Carnival Valor will offer a one-time five-day voyage departing San Juan March 22 and arriving in Port Canaveral March 27, 2015, featuring visits to St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

“We periodically move ships around to keep the product fresh in different markets and both Carnival Liberty and Carnival Valor offer a wide variety of fantastic features and an enticing array of itineraries for our guests to enjoy,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Princess Unveils Hip Night Sky Lounge Aboard Regal Princess
Princess Unveils Hip Night Sky Lounge Aboard Regal PrincessA new, cool nighttime experience will debut on Regal Princess in November, enabling guests to enjoy a chic and contemporary outdoor nightclub under the stars. The new nightclub, Night Sky Lounge, will debut in November when the ship begins her inaugural Caribbean season.

The top-deck Retreat Pool will transform into the new Night Sky Lounge one night during each cruise, inviting guests to enjoy an upbeat and modern, South Miami-style nightclub vibe, including atmospheric pool and furniture lighting, glowing drinks and a DJ spinning tunes on a state-of-the-art audio system. Cruise guests will sip sophisticated cocktails, even in the two Jacuzzis, enjoy a flair bartending demonstration, dance the night away, and can even reserve a cabana with hosted bottle service.

“The Retreat Pool aboard Regal Princess is such an inviting space, and so transforming it into a cool lounge that offers an entirely new evening experience will be sure to delight our guests,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We think the lounge’s great location, beautiful lighting, specialty cocktails and music will be a winning entertainment experience.”

Guests will pay a nominal charge to enter the Night Sky Lounge.

Regal Princess begins her Caribbean cruise season on November 6 with a short preview sailing, followed by a schedule of seven-day cruises to ports in the Eastern Caribbean including St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.

Mississippi Resident Sails on 33 Consecutive Voyages on Carnival Elation
Mississippi Resident Sails on 33 Consecutive Voyages on Carnival ElationTalk about back-to-back cruises! Mark Fosselman of Diamond Head, Miss., recently debarked the Carnival Elation after 33 consecutive voyages totaling a whopping 270 cruise days.  It’s believed to be the longest streak of consecutive cruise days in Carnival Cruise Lines’ 42-year history.

Fosselman boarded the Carnival Elation in New Orleans for his first cruise in April and sailed 32 additional four- and five-day cruises, visiting the Mexican ports of Cozumel and Progreso dozens of times during that period.

Carnival Elation has a special place in Fosselman’s heart as he and his wife, Becky, sailed on the ship numerous times over the past few years, even after she became ill and was unable to walk or talk.  Fosselman said his wife loved sailing with Carnival and believed that the cruises contributed greatly to her quality of life despite her declining health.

After his wife passed away in April 2014, Fosselman decided to return to the ship that brought them so many wonderful memories, boarding Carnival Elation for the first of 33 consecutive voyages later that month. Fosselman believes that cruising was very therapeutic following his wife’s passing and the Carnival Elation’s staff went above and beyond in providing much-needed support and assistance during this challenging period in his life.

When Fosselman debarked the ship after 33 consecutive voyages and 270 days overall on board, the Carnival Elation staff warmly greeted him in the ship’s atrium and held a special farewell reception that included a banner created especially for the occasion.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.95 + 0.40%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 64.37 + 1.12%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 - 3.97%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 36.99 + 9.47%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
American Export Lines operated a quartet of popular combination ships following the Second World War. The ships were known as the "Four Aces". What were the names of these ships.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When is a Sapphire Princess not a Sapphire Princess? The current Sapphire Princess sailing for Princess Cruises had a different name when construction started. What was her original name and why did it have to be changed.

Answer - Sapphire was actually the Diamond Princess. There was a fire during construction, so they re-named it to keep on schedule.
courtesy of Monika Best


Cruise News - August 25 2014

Quantum of the Seas To Debut New Technology
Tech-savvy modern travelers will be wowed by Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, which incorporates unprecedented levels of technology to amp up the vacation experience.

"Cruise vacations have a romantic past – but they also have a lively, adventurous, state-of-the-art future," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We were determined to take the best advances in modern technology, turn them into shipboard WOWs, and take the frustration out of the vacation. This ship's combination of ease and flexibility would make a yoga instructor proud."

Boatloads of bandwidth keep guests connected; easy-to-use systems expand guest choices and simplify schedules; and RFID technology speeds the boarding process and allows guests to keep track of their luggage every step of the way.

Altogether, customer-centered technology makes Quantum of the Seas six kinds of SMART:

SMART Check-In: From sidewalk to ship in record time
A Quantum vacation begins at home, where guests can generate boarding documents online, upload their own ID photo, and receive digital boarding confirmation. By the time they arrive at the cruise terminal for departure, Royal Caribbean guests can go from "sidewalk to ship" in 10 minutes with no check-in counter, no forms to fill out and no lines to stand in.

Guests will be able to track luggage in real time on their smartphones.Guests will be able to track luggage in real time on their smartphones. Luggage will be tagged curbside with RFID technology at drop-off, and guests can monitor their bags' progress through key points en route to the stateroom. On departure, the process is reversed.

SMART Concierge: Flexibility at your fingertips
Quantum of the Seas will offer new RFID WOWband wristbands, which require only a simple tap to quickly navigate the ship, make onboard purchases, serve as the room key and more.

Simplicity and efficiency are also at the heart of two new apps that put guests in charge of their cruise choices: Cruise Planner, which allows guests to research and book dining reservations, shore excursions, spa appointments and more before their vacation begins; and Royal iQ, available as a downloadable app and provided at freestanding iQ stations around the ship. Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of their program, and keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.

"Every vacation minute counts, especially on Quantum of the Seas where there is so much to see and do," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "Guests can now tailor everything about their cruise in advance, so they can start enjoying their vacation the minute they step onboard. In essence, they get back the first day of their cruise."

Taken together, these features take the company's time-saving efforts to a new level," Lutoff-Perlo said. "Every minute we can save our guests is another minute of their vacation they have to enjoy."

SMART Connect: Downloads at the speed of modern life
Quantum of the Seas will operate with unprecedented bandwidth using satellites launched by tech partner O3b Networks. With speeds that match fast broadband connections onshore, guests can be online 24/7, no matter what personal device they bring onboard. Guests can watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media and enjoy face-to-face video conversations – even in the middle of the ocean.

"Even when they are getting away from it all on vacation, people want to be able to connect," said Lutoff-Perlo. "Our satellite network will make things possible at sea that could never have been done before, and will make all the difference in the way guests share their Royal Caribbean experience."

In addition, Quantum's connectivity makes it possible for one of the SeaPods in SeaPlex to become a live global video gaming suite where guests can enjoy Xbox Live and compete with other gamers worldwide.

SMART Experiences: Shaking martinis and spinning screens
Technology also powers surprise-and-delight elements on Quantum of the Seas. A brand new venue, Bionic Bar, is set to make waves with robots at center stage. Guests place orders via tablets and then have fun watching robotic bartenders hard at work mixing cocktails.

Two70 is home to a playful and agile troupe of six Roboscreens that stage surprise performances during every cruiseRobots drive another entertaining feature on Quantum of the Seas. Two70 is home to a playful and agile troupe of six Roboscreens that stage surprise performances during every cruise, creating scenes while soaring and twisting solo, or uniting as one. Guests will also experience Vistarama, floor-to-ceiling glass walls that transform into an expansive ambient surface that projects any scene, real or imagined, including the multidimensional performance spectacle, Starwater.

Quantum of the Seas will take advantage of technology in functional forms as well. Guest staterooms are equipped with device-charging USB outlets, as well as energy efficient and environmentally friendly lighting systems. Interior accommodations are outfitted with Virtual Balconies that display real-time sights and sounds of the sea through 80-inch LED screens, ensuring every stateroom has a view.

SMART Service: Crew can connect better with guests – and with home
The technology benefits of Quantum of the Seas extend to the ship's crew. Custom apps will allow crew members to keep better track of guests' tastes and preferences, allowing staff to tailor their already remarkably personalized service to an even higher degree. Whether a guest prefers gluten-free dining, early show seating, or shiatsu massage, the features of the smart ship allow crew members to anticipate every need.

And the ship's remarkable capabilities give the company an opportunity to make life better for crew members too, since Royal Caribbean will present every crew member on Quantum of the Seas with a free, personal Microsoft Windows tablet, with a suite of services and apps that is theirs to keep. And as technology upgrades are made across the company's fleet, every shipboard employee in the entire Royal Caribbean International fleet will also receive their own tablet – a total of 40,000 tablets.

"The Royal Caribbean men and women who provide such great vacations are the real heroes of our fleet and these gifts demonstrate our appreciation in a tangible way," Fain said. "This technology isn't only about giving our guests a better vacation – it's also about giving our crew and their families a closer connection than we've ever been able to"

SMART Sustainability: Cleaner and greener
Technology has even played a part in making the ship more environmentally friendly. Sophisticated computer modeling was used to reduce the vessel's energy consumption with efficient hull configuration, engine design and energy saving devices. The ship has eliminated the use of incandescent bulbs; all lighting will be provided by low-energy LED or fluorescents. Motion sensors even dim hallway lighting when no one is present.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms. Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty for her inaugural season before departing to her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China. Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton, U.K. in April 2015 sailing Mediterranean itineraries.

Keel Laid for Holland America Line's New 2,650-Guest Pinnacle Class Vessel
Keel Laid for Holland America Line's New 2,650-Guest Pinnacle Class VesselHolland America Line celebrated the keel laying of its new 2,650-guest Pinnacle Class ship on Aug. 22 at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy. A 680-ton block was lowered by crane into the yard's building dock, marking the official beginning of construction. The 99,500-gross-ton ship is scheduled for delivery in February 2016.

The event was attended by Holland America Line's Keith Taylor, senior vice president, fleet operations and Cyril Tatar, vice president, newbuild and technical operations.

"The keel laying of our new Pinnacle Class vessel heightens the anticipation for delivery because very soon we'll see the ship begin to take shape," said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line. "As the largest ship ever built for Holland America Line, the vessel features many innovations and new features, and we're excited to see it all come together over the next year and a half."

The ship will showcase decors by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, based in New York City, and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten, based in Oslo, Norway.

Cunard Line to Explore New Territories in World Cruising with 2016
Cunard announced its 2016 World and Exotic Cruise Program this week. The Program will feature three World and Exotic Cruises with options ranging from four to 121 days aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. The fleet will be travelling to 92 unique destinations, including 32 maiden calls, in 47 countries.

Cunard Line to Explore New Territories in World Cruising with 2016“Since 1922, Cunard has carried on the tradition of creating luxurious and memorable adventures for travellers seeking a unique view of the world through our World Voyage Program,” said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line. “Cunard has embarked on more circumnavigations than any other cruise line, all the while gaining a reputation for continuously providing guests with a world-class experience. We look forward to a fantastic year at sea with new and returning guests.”

Cunard initiated the world cruise concept in 1922, and in 2016 the company will celebrate 94 years of carrying more passengers around the globe than any other cruise line. Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will depart Southampton together on 10 January 2016 and will all return from their respective World Cruises on 10 May 2016.

Queen Mary 2
For the first time since 2009, Queen Mary 2 will embark on a full circumnavigation, with eight maiden calls during her 120-night westbound voyage via South America and the Suez Canal. She will visit 38 ports of call in 26 countries, travelling more than 41,000 nautical miles.

Destination highlights include her first crossing of the South Pacific, featuring a sail-by of Easter Island and visits to the Polynesian paradise islands of Papeete and Moorea. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to take in breathtaking views of Beagle Channel and Magellan Straits when sailing around Cape Horn. Queen Mary 2 will also travel through the iconic Suez Canal.

Overnight calls will include Rio de Janeiro, Punta del Este, Sydney and Dubai.

Segment cruises provide guests the chance to enjoy Cunard Line’s one-of-a-kind World Cruise experience within a shorter time frame. In 2016, Queen Mary 2 Segment voyages will range from seven to 22 days and include:
• 22-day Valparaiso to Sydney
• 22-day Dubai to Southampton
• 20-day Hong Kong to Dubai
• 18-day Sydney to Hong Kong
• 16-day New York to Rio de Janeiro
• 16-day Brisbane to Hong Kong
• 15-day Rio de Janeiro to Valparaiso
• 13-day Fort Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro
• 11-day Singapore to Dubai
• 10-day Southampton to Fort Lauderdale
• 9-day Hong Kong to Singapore
• 7-day Southampton to New York

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria offers guests the opportunity to experience the classic World Voyage – a westbound circumnavigation of the globe with nine maiden calls during its 120-night exploration. Visiting 37 ports of call in 22 countries, Queen Victoria will sail more than 40,000 nautical miles over the course of her journey. She will pass through the iconic Panama Canal, as well as provide scenic cruising in Milford Sound, part of New Zealand’s incredible Fjordland national park.

Queen Victoria’s overnight calls will include San Francisco, Sydney and Cape Town.

Her Exotic Cruise Segments will range from four to 24 days and include:
• 24-day Hong Kong to Cape Town
• 21-day San Francisco to Sydney
• 21-day Sydney to Hong Kong
• 18-day Cape Town to Southampton
• 16-day Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco
• 12-day Southampton to Fort Lauderdale
• 8-day Round trip Sydney
• 4-day Hong Kong to Singapore

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth will embark on a 121-night voyage that spans 42 ports of call in 25 countries during its East-West sail through destinations in the Far East and Asia. A comprehensive immersion experience that includes 15 maiden calls, the Queen Elizabeth World Cruise will explore the ancient cultures of Japan, Korea and China as well as Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines over the course of 36,000 nautical miles.

Her visit to Japan is perfectly timed to give guests the best chance to see the breathtaking cherry trees in full bloom. Destination highlights also include a transit through the Suez Canal and the Dardanelles, where guests may visit the historic sites of Aqaba and Istanbul.

Her overnight calls will include Cape Town (double overnight), Sydney and Singapore.

Segment voyages aboard Queen Elizabeth will range from five to 25 days and include:
• 25-day Cape Town to Sydney
• 23-day Dubai to Southampton
• 18-day Sydney to Hong Kong
• 18-day Hong Kong to Dubai
• 17-day Southampton to Cape Town
• 15-day Yokohama to Singapore
• 13-day Singapore to Dubai
• 12-day Hong Kong to Osaka
• 10-day Hong Kong to Yokohama
• 10-day Yokohama to Hong Kong
• 8-day Osaka to Hong Kong
• 5-day Hong Kong to Singapore

Crystal Invites Travelers To Sleep In - Without Missing The Adventure
The need to choose between catching up on much needed sleep and embarking on a great adventure while on vacation is no more. This fall, in an industry first, Crystal Cruises will debut new Crystal Adventures planned especially for late-risers, offering the same enriching experiences in the world's most stunning and significant destinations, beginning later in the day.

Crystal Invites Travelers To Sleep In - Without Missing The AdventureWith the line's excursions typically departing the ship within 30-60 minutes of docking or tendering – as early as 8:00 a.m. -- the new "Late-Risers Adventures" will begin closer to 11:00 a.m. or noon, depending on the itinerary. The start times are designed to complement the line's Late-Risers Breakfasts, served from 10:00-11:30 a.m. on both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.

"There are so many distinctly different types of travelers, each with their own idea of the perfect vacation. For many, this involves plenty of rest and relaxation," says Crystal President Edie Rodriguez. "The 'Late-Risers Adventures' allow guests who prefer more sleep in the morning, are perhaps still adjusting to a time change, or simply like to enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast, to keep their preferred schedule without missing out on any of the insightful, expertly crafted Crystal Adventures in a select destination."

The new, later excursions will be offered beginning with Crystal Serenity's September 19 Boston-Québec sailing, and on Crystal Symphony's September 27 Hamburg-Lisbon sailing. Examples of adventures with later start times include:

• A glimpse into the eclectic culture of Oporto, Portugal, including the elaborate Cathedral of Oporto – once a Gothic church, now an important Baroque structure, and the 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace, blending Arab and European influences, plus a visit to a port wine cellar for tasting among the oak casts and barrels.

• Taking in Amsterdam's most notable sites from some of the 100 canals within the city, including the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum and countless gabled houses, merchants' mansions and centuries-old carillon-crowned churches.

• Such famed Boston highlights as the Navy Yard, home to "Old Ironsides," the world's oldest commissioned naval ship afloat; Boston Common, America's oldest public park; the Freedom Trail and the pre-Revolutionary Old State House.

The "Late-Risers" tours will be available on select Crystal itineraries throughout the world, which range from 5-108 days and sail through the Mediterranean, Western Europe, British Isles, Scandinavia/Baltic & Russia, North Cape & Arctic Circle, Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, South Pacific, South America, Antarctica, New England/Canada, Panama Canal, Caribbean, and an indulgent annual World Cruise.

Celebrity Cruises Introduces Immersive Luxury Vacations with the Launch of "Celebrity Explorations"
Recognizing the growing trend toward extended vacations and answering the demand from guests, Celebrity Cruises today unveiled "Celebrity Explorations" – unique vacations that pair ocean cruises with deep, immersive destination experiences on land.

Celebrity's well-traveled destination experts have uncovered the most authentic experiences in each destination and cultivated relationships with local experts to deliver more than 20 different one-of-a-kind Celebrity Explorations, with more to be revealed this year. Vacationers can combine an ocean cruise with several days of extensive and fully-guided tours, exhilarating excursions and indulgent hotels – minus the stress of planning.

Celebrity Cruises Introduces Immersive Luxury Vacations with the Launch of Celebrity ExplorationsGuests can now pair an exciting safari in Africa's greatest wildlife reserves with a cruise to the Iberian Peninsula or journey down the Amazon River on a luxury custom-built riverboat with floor-to-ceiling picture windows before setting sail on a modern, luxurious Celebrity ship for a thrilling Antarctic cruise. Additional Celebrity Explorations that offer memorable insight into the sights, flavors, culture and history of destinations include vacations that combine the vibrancy of Sydney, Australia with unforgettable cruises in the South Pacific.

"As a modern luxury vacation company, we are in the business of providing outstanding vacation experiences and have been doing so for nearly 25 years," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "With the introduction of Celebrity Explorations, we are giving our guests more of what they value and expect from Celebrity – authentic, immersive and upscale vacation experiences that combine luxury hotels, guided tours by our destination concierges and the best in local dining with a unique selection of ocean cruises and more. Our new style of travel pairs two exceptional vacations in one – and both have been perfectly planned down to the very last detail to create one exhilarating vacation."

Highlights from the collection of Celebrity Explorations, ranging from 11 to 22 nights, include:

• Sydney & the South Pacific – Guests can indulge in the Land Down Under with three nights in a luxury hotel in Sydney, Australia, combined with exciting tours that take in the must-see highlights of the city - including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach, plus a magical dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour. Vacationers can then choose from an array of destination-rich Celebrity cruises sailing through the South Pacific aboard Celebrity Solstice.
*Available for select sailings departing Jan. 18 – March 22, 2015 and Oct. 21, 2015 – April 1, 2016

Africa & the Iberian Peninsula – A five-night adventure in Africa begins with five-star hotel in Nairobi, Kenya before heading to an upscale lodge in Lake Nakuru National Park and a luxurious tented camp in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Guests can enjoy three fully escorted expeditions before joining Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton, England to soak up the glorious Iberian sun while sailing for 11 to 14 nights through the Canary Islands.
*Available for sailings departing Aug. 30 - Oct. 21, 2015.

Amazon & the Antarctic, Argentina or Chile – On this customizable 21- to 22-night exploration, vacationers take in the sights and sounds of South America while relaxing in upscale accommodations in Lima, Peru, combined with Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile. Guests then will experience four incredible days of untouched scenery and wildlife while sailing down the Amazon River in a luxurious riverboat chartered exclusively for Celebrity. From here, travelers will embark on a 14- or 15-night modern luxury cruise aboard Celebrity Infinity, visiting inspiring destinations that include Antarctica, Argentina and Chile.
*Available for select itineraries departing Dec. 20, 2015 - Feb. 28, 2016.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.80 - 0.16%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 63.66 - 0.08%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 + 0.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.79 + 0.33%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When is a Sapphire Princess not a Sapphire Princess? The current Sapphire Princess sailing for Princess Cruises had a different name when construction started. What was her original name and why did it have to be changed.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - During 1968, the financially troubled Independence was chartered for a series of "pay as you go" cruises during which her exterior was re-painted with a "distinctive/garish" image. What was the image that was painted on the Independence?

Answer - She was painted with a face of Jean Harlow, with attention grabbing eyes. It did not last long!
courtesy of John Nuttall


Cruise News - August 18 2014

Cunard Cancels Two Queen Victoria Cruises To Fix Propulsion Problems
Cunard announced this week that Queen Victoria will enter the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, earlier than planned in January 2015 for a multi-million dollar refit.

The timing of Queen Victoria’s dry dock is being brought forward, as a bearing on one of the ship’s propulsion units will need replacing prior to her previously scheduled dry dock in December 2015. This has no impact on the safety of the ship, but it is timely for the bearing to be replaced prior to the ship’s Round World Cruise beginning 20 January 2015.

Cunard Cancels Two Queen Victoria Cruises To Fix Propulsion ProblemsThe cruise line said that the timing of the dry dock will necessitate the cancellation of two cruises including a 12-day cruise to the Canaries scheduled for 3 January 2015, and a short five-day trip to Amsterdam and Cherbourg scheduled for 15 January 2015.

In making the announcement, David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line said “While we are sorry to be cancelling the two cruises, we are looking forward to welcoming all those affected back aboard a Cunard ship in the near future, perhaps on Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth, both of which will be sailing in 2015 fresh from their make overs.”

Passengers (and their travel agents) have been informed. A Future Cruise Credit of $175.00 per person is being offered to all affected passengers, which can be used in conjunction with any alternative Cunard booking made for cruises departing within the next two years (before 3 January 2017). Full refunds of any monies paid will also be available should affected passengers not be in a position to rebook an alternative Cunard cruise.

Queen Victoria’s makeover will include the addition of nine single staterooms for the first time on the ship, re-modelled from part of the casino. In addition, carpets will be renewed throughout; large flat-screen TVs – mostly 32” or above – will be installed in all passenger staterooms; and in the ship’s informal Lido restaurant, waiters will in the future serve hot drinks at all meals.

“Queen Victoria’s multi-million dollar refit will ensure this much-loved ship remains in tip-top condition for her World Cruise in 2015 and beyond,” said Dingle.

As on the recently re-fitted Queen Elizabeth, sun awnings will be erected on the open area near the stern Lido pool and on both sides of the Grills Upper Terrace area near the top of the ship to offer more shade on deck.

In the shopping area on board, the footprint will increase significantly. New fine jewellery and watch shops are opening and the layout, lighting and overall shopping experience for passengers is being enhanced.

On the technical front, scrubber technology is being installed aboard Queen Victoria to match that now aboard Queen Elizabeth, in line with the company’s commitment to minimizing its environmental impact. The process involves the installation of a filtration system for the exhaust gas from the ship’s engines.

Carnival Pride To Operate Special Cruises From Baltimore And San Juan In 2015-16
For the first time, Carnival Pride will operate a series of 10- to 14-day Caribbean cruises round-trip from Baltimore and one-way between Baltimore and San Juan featuring some of the region's most breathtaking destinations, as well as new five-day Bermuda cruises and unique six- and eight-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyages, beginning in October 2015.

"Our guests and travel agent partners have been seeking more varied options from the Northeast – particularly longer length voyages – and we're delighted to expand our schedules from Baltimore and San Juan to provide these attractive 'Fun Ship' cruise offerings from these ports," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and CEO. "These new voyages not only provide vacationers with an abundance of five- to 14-day cruise choices but also feature a wide range of spectacular island destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda," he added.

Carnival Pride To Operate Special Cruises From Baltimore And San Juan In 2015-16Carnival Pride will operate a series of 10-, 11- and 14-day cruises either round-trip from Baltimore or one-way between Baltimore and San Juan in 2015 and 2016. The voyages include an 11-day exotic southern Caribbean cruise from Baltimore to San Juan departing Jan. 17, 2016, with stops at Grand Turk, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and St. Croix; a 10-day exotic eastern Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Baltimore departing Jan. 28, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia; St. Kitts and St. Maarten; and a 14-day eastern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Baltimore March 13, 2016, featuring eight different island destinations: Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Maarten.

During these voyages, guests can relax on some of the world's most beautiful beaches, enjoy a host of shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities, experience unique Caribbean cultures and visit centuries-old landmarks and attractions.

Carnival Pride will also offer two five-day Bermuda cruises in 2015-16 – one departing Oct. 26, 2015, and another April 10, 2016. These cruises spend two full days at Heritage Wharf, where guests can marvel at the island's legendary pink sand beaches, enjoy a variety of watersports and visit historic sites such as the Royal Naval Dockyard and Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere.

Additionally, three six-day Bahamas cruises operating round-trip from Baltimore and featuring visits to Freeport and Nassau will be offered. These value-packed cruises, which depart Nov. 30 and Dec. 20, 2015, and Feb. 14, 2016, provide consumers with a new short duration cruise option from Baltimore at an incredible value.

Carnival Pride will also offer a new series of eight-day exotic eastern Caribbean voyages departing from Baltimore and featuring Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau, each offering gorgeous beaches and excellent watersports. Departure dates for these voyages include Oct. 18 and 31, and Dec. 26, 2015, and Feb. 20, and April 15 and 23, 2016.

A special six-day East Coast U.S. and Bahamas cruise from Baltimore featuring the line's first-ever scheduled in-transit call to Charleston, S.C., as well as Port Canaveral, Fla., Nassau, and Freeport, will be offered Nov. 22, 2015.

This fall, Carnival Pride will undergo a multi-million-dollar makeover that will add a variety of dining, bar and entertainment innovations that are part of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative. New features will include Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican fare, EA SPORTS Bar with a 16-monitor video wall and 24/7 sports ticker, and two poolside watering holes – RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Sure to be a hit with guests of all ages will be WaterWorks featuring Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest slide at sea, as well as the line's signature Twister slide and a water spray park. Also added will be Bonsai Sushi serving authentic Asian specialties, RedFrog Pub serving Carnival's own private label draft beer, ThirstyFrog Red, Library Bar with self-service wine dispensers, and Cherry On Top, offering bulk candy, apparel and other items. New entertainment options such as Hasbro, The Game Show with larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic games, and Playlist Productions where talented performers interact with spectacular staging and special effects, will be added, as well.

Princess Cruises Introduces Regional Menus
When the new Regal Princess sails into Florida this November to begin her maiden Caribbean cruise season, she will debut a new Princess Cruises dining program that will showcase regional culinary specialties designed to reflect the destinations its ships visit around the world.

The as-yet unnamed 143,000-ton vessel, which will be built at an all-in cost of approximately 600 million euros, will carry 3,560 passengers, and feature the successful design platform introduced by sister ships Royal Princess in 2013 and Regal PrincesThe new program will enable guests to enjoy regional menu items created with local produce, spices and seafood. The first special menus are inspired by the Caribbean in keeping with the ship’s fall itineraries. The regional cruise ship menus will eventually roll out across the fleet, and will include culinary specialties from an array of vacation destinations including the Mediterranean, Alaska and Hawaii.

“One of the joys of travel is experiencing the culinary specialties for which a destination is known,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “So now when our guests cruise with Princess around the world, they’ll be able to enjoy some of the most celebrated local dishes onboard as well as ashore.”

Beginning with Regal Princess, regional cruise menus will introduce guests to the exotic fusion of flavors found in island cuisine, including such offerings as:

Arawak’s Caribbean-Style Pork Chop – Prepared with traditional Jamaican jerk spice and curry, and served with red beans, rice and rum sauce, this extraordinary dish earned Princess Cruises Corporate Executive Chef Alfredo Marzi the top prize at the 8th Annual Bacardi Bartender and Chef Cruise Competition.

Red Snapper Mojito – Featuring ceviche accented with fresh mint, mango and avocado, and finished with a splash of rum, this was the winning dish created by Princess Cruises Executive Chef Antonio Cortese at the 6th Annual Bacardi Bartender and Chef Cruise Competition

Island-Spiced Jerk Chicken – A marinade of rum, molasses, tangy lime juice and thyme, plus sweet-and-fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers, infuses this tender chicken dish with the spirit of the islands.

Caribbean Cocktails – The Caribbean Cooler is the perfect poolside cocktail, with coconut rum, melon liqueur, banana liqueur, citrus mix and pineapple juice. The West Indies Yellow Bird offers a classic taste of the region, featuring a shaken melody of rum, galliano and banana liqueur with orange and pineapple juice. The Cool Runnings cocktail, a favorite of the Caribbean Islands, features a delicious combination of rum, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy and grenadine, blended with coconut and pineapple.

Regal Princess begins her Caribbean cruise season on November 6 with a short preview sailing, followed by a schedule of seven-day cruises to ports in the Eastern Caribbean including St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.

Carnival Cruise Lines Takes On #IceBucketChallenge
Leave it to Carnival Cruise Lines to take the #IceBucketChallenge to another level!

Carnival Cruise Lines Takes On #IceBucketChallengeThe world's most popular cruise line enlisted all 24 of its "Fun Ships," as well as President and CEO Gerry Cahill, to participate in the #IceBucketChallenge, designed to raise much-needed awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Carnival is also making a $100,000 donation to the ALS Association.

The way the #IceBucketChallenge works is simple: participants are encouraged to pour a bucket of ice water over their head and then challenge others to do the same or make a donation to fight ALS within 24 hours.

Carnival's newest ship, Carnival Breeze, was the first ship to rise to the challenge with Cruise Director Matt Mitcham throwing down the gauntlet by dumping the entire contents of the 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and then challenging the line's other 23 ships to take up the cause.

Team members from the 23 ships – which are sailing in regions spanning the Caribbean, Alaska, the West Coast and Australia – were up to the task, with shipboard personnel undergoing their own below-freezing drenching to support ALS research, treatment and education efforts.

The #IceBucketChallenge was then extended to Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador John Heald who is sailing, appropriately enough, in the icy waters of Alaska on the Carnival Miracle.

Fresh from his drenching, Heald then challenged President and CEO Gerry Cahill who, surrounded by dozens of the company's employees, underwent his own frigid encounter at the company's Miami headquarters.

A three-minute video of Carnival's #IceBucketChallenge can be viewed here.

And just to keep the momentum going, Cahill challenged popular comedian and TV personality George Lopez – the line's "curator of comedy" who helped create the fleetwide Punchliner Comedy Clubs – along with Food Network star Guy Fieri whose namesake Guy's Burger Joints are on several ships and DJ IRIE, the line's official DJ whose Spin'Iversity trains Carnival DJs fleetwide. All three gentlemen gladly accepted the challenge!

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.86 + 2.71%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 63.71 + 4.80%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.01 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.68 + 4.66%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
During 1968, the financially troubled Independence was chartered for a series of "pay as you go" cruises during which her exterior was re-painted with a "distinctive/garish" image. What was the image that was painted on the Independence?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Many people know that Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982, but can you name the other former liner that was also pressed into service during the conflict?

Answer - The third Cruise ship to serve in the Falkland War was The SS Uganda(1952).
courtesy of Bruce McKenzie, Guam, USA


Cruise News - August 11 2014

Regal Princess Naming Ceremony Will Launch Princess Cruises' 50th Anniversary Celebrations
It's been nearly forty years since the iconic television show The Love Boat went on the air and introduced viewers to modern day cruising and, in the process, made Princess Cruises and its ships synonymous with vacations at sea.

As Princess prepares to celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary year in 2015, the company is honoring the role that The Love Boat played in its history by selecting the original Love Boat cast members to serve as godparents for its new cruise ship Regal Princess. All six Love Boat cast members - who played the roles of Captain Stubing, Gopher, Isaac, Doc, Julie and Vicki – will reunite to christen the new ship on November 5 in Fort Lauderdale.

The ceremony will officially launch the golden year anniversary celebrations for Princess Cruises, which will celebrate five decades of operation throughout 2015.

The actors include Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship's doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain's daughter)The actors include Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship's doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain's daughter).

"We can think of no more suitable godparents for our newest ship than the cast of the show that put Princess Cruises on the map," said Jan Swartz, the line's president. "The show has been such a visible part of our company's history, it made sense to kick off our anniversary celebrations with this special tribute."

The pilot episode of the Love Boat, shot aboard Princess' 730-passenger original Sun Princess in 1977, began the relationship between Princess Cruises and the show, which for ten seasons eventually became one of the highest rated and longest-running shows on television. The Pacific Princess and Island Princess were the primary floating stars of the show, while later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many of Princess' other cruise ships in destinations around the globe.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that my former cast mates and I will be part of Regal Princess' U.S. debut," said Gavin MacLeod, who has been Princess Cruises' ambassador since the show ended in 1986. "The fact that The Love Boat continues to air in international syndication around the globe is a testament to the show's longevity and the world's fascination with romance on the high seas."

The 3,560-guest Regal Princess, which entered service in May of this year, is arriving in Fort Lauderdale to begin her maiden season of Caribbean cruise vacations. Among the special features found on board is a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship, offering a host of dining and entertainment options; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

"The ship's naming ceremony is just the beginning of the celebrations that will mark our company's golden anniversary," said Swartz. She added that beyond the Regal Princess festivities, guests sailing on any of the line's fleet of 18 cruise ships during 2015 will enjoy a wide range of anniversary experiences.

Eight-Ton Polar Bear Featured On Quantum of the Seas Top Deck
Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will exit the enclosed building hall at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, tomorrow, August 13, revealing an unexpected occupant – a 30-foot-tall magenta polar bear situated prominently on the exterior deck of the ship. The bear, a sculpture created by Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent, is the first glimpse of the 2,980 piece, multi-million art collection themed "What Makes Life Worth Living" that has been curated for Quantum of the Seas.

Eight-Ton Polar Bear Featured On Quantum of the Seas Top DeckIn addition to Lawrence Argent, an impressive portfolio of artists, including Paul Villinski, who created a monumental installation called "Crossing" which encompasses a wall of 210 butterflies representing 30 species, each made of aluminum, stainless steel, acrylic and enamel; sculptor Soo Sunny Park, whose sprawling, undulating structure titled "Waves of Light," explores the light's potential as a structural element. Pieces by these artists and others span size, art forms and mediums, and can be enjoyed both inside and outside the ship.

"Royal Caribbean has a long history of showcasing original art at sea; in fact, we boast one of the world's largest private art collections across our fleet, " said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "The pieces we have commissioned for Quantum of the Seas are stunning, engaging and in some cases completely unexpected, and we are so thrilled that our guests have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of exceptionally brilliant works from some of the world's most talented artists such as Lawrence Argent."

The bear titled "From Afar" is comprised of 1,340 stainless steel triangles, weighs approximately eight-tons and is intended to incite wonder among guests, encouraging them to admire the bear from afar, as well as interact with it on a more intimate, yet whimsical level. The piece helps guests explore the ship's art theme by showcasing intangible qualities of what makes life worth living, such as peace, love, joy, gratitude and passion, which is what Quantum's art pieces are meant to evoke, while sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, scheduled to debut April 2015, uncovers tangible aspects of the theme such as adventure, entertainment and nature.

"It is quite exciting to be collaborating with Royal Caribbean on a very visible and significant piece of art that will allow my work to be exposed to thousands of people each week," said Argent. "The thing about cruise vacations is that they transport individuals from the normality of their everyday lives and leave them open to new experiences. The bear engages those that have a fear of thinking they don't know what art is and turns it into an approachable entity."

For more than 20 years, International Corporate Art (ICArt) has curated the collections for Royal Caribbean's global fleet of 21 ships. The team combs the world for inspiring artists, new and seasoned, who create intriguing works to be showcased on the cruise line's ships, a process that generally takes two to three years.

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and sister-ship Anthem of the Seas will introduce a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line's largest and most advanced staterooms ever.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms. Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty for her inaugural season before departing to her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China. Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton, U.K. in April 2015 sailing Mediterranean itineraries.

Venice Cruise Ship Ban Reinstated
The Governor of Venice, Italy, Luca Zaia, announced on Friday the reinstatement of a ban on cruise ships above 40,000 from Saint Mark's basin and the Giudecca Canal in Venice. In making the announcement the Governor said that the "unanimous decision" was made by an international committee of experts looking into ways to preserve the buildings in the sunken city and surrounding lagoons. Last year, over 650 cruise ships passed through the city.

Venice Cruise Ship Ban SuspendedIn March, An Italian court had issued a ruling that temporarily suspended certain restrictions on large cruise ships that visit Venice that had gone into effect in January. That ruling was in response to an appeal made by Venezia Terminal Passeggeri (VTP), the group that runs the port of Venice along with several other companies that do business with the cruise lines. The court said that the suspension would be in effect until a hearing is held on June 12th.

The reinstated restrictions will reduce by 20% the number of ships over 40,000 tons that are authorized to cross the Giudecca canal. Another restriction that is scheduled to go into effect in November of 2014 would ban all ships over 96,000 tons from the same route.

The restrictions were put into place following the capsizing of the Costa Concord in January 2012 which killed 32 people off the coast of Tuscany. Those seeking the restrictions were concerned about the potential damage that would be caused if ships as large as the Costa Concordia began visiting Venice on a regular basis. Environmentalists have warned that the ecosystem and lagoon that surrounds Venice, including the centuries-old pilings that support the city could be damaged by the large cruise ships.

Louis Cruises Launching A New Brand: Celestyal Cruises
Louis Cruises announced this week that it was launching a new cruise brand in the fall called, Celestyal Cruises. Louis said that it will transfer two ships - Louis Cristal and Louis Olympia - from the current Louis fleet to the new brand in 2015.

In the announcement, Louis noted that today’s travelers want an "authentic experience when they travel. They want unique destinations and a true taste of the culture, gastronomy and history of a place. And, as modern life becomes more hectic, they want a travel experience that dissolves their cares from the moment they depart. They want a temporary home in the stars…

Venice Cruise Ship Ban Suspended"Since 2013, Louis Cruises has kept this idea at the forefront of its efforts, particularly with the inauguration of the ‘Kalimera!’ experience. Throughout the 2013 season Louis Cruises gave passengers the best of the Aegean’s “Iconic” destinations, such as Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes and Santorini, along with revised bar and restaurant menus, new themed programs, peerless onboard entertainment and personalized service that defines Greek hospitality. Thousands of Louis passengers are saying ‘Kalimera!’ to the real Greek experience in 2014 with itineraries that take them to nine new “Idyllic” Aegean destinations, undiscovered gems such as Chios, Ios, Kos, Milos, Samos, Symi, Syros and the “Turkish Riviera” ports of Bodrum and Cesme.

“Kalimera!” is more than a greeting – it’s a promise, and the company is bolstering its commitment with even more outstanding Greek food and wine, and with themed programs that take passengers deeper into the archaeology, gastronomy, history and music of Greece. In 2015 the company will continue to build on the promise of “Kalimera!” sailing to incredible new ports of call in the Ionian and Adriatic seas and along the Dalmatian coast.

“In September 2014 we will give a name to this promise: Celestyal Cruises. Celestyal stems from celestial,” which means ‘pertaining to the stars’ and ‘heavenly’ or ‘divine.’ By launching Celestyal, we are expanding the Louis Cruises portfolio thereby reflecting the divine, real Greek experience that one enjoys when sailing with us,” said Kyriakos Anastassiadis, CEO of Louis Cruises. “We’ve also chosen this name to honor our ancestors, the Ancient Greeks, who were among the first peoples to use celestial navigation – by the third century BC; Greek mariners were using the Little Bear to navigate their ships.”

Voyager of the Seas Makeover Details Announced
Breaking surf-report: a wave unlike any other is due to hit Australian shores this summer when the newly revamped Voyager of the Seas arrives for her cruising season starting this November. A multimillion-dollar investment will see Australia’s largest ship packed with even more amenities including the region’s first FlowRider surfing simulator, so guests can now ride the perfect wave at any time, even in the middle of the ocean.

Eight-Ton Polar Bear Featured On Quantum of the Seas Top DeckVoyager of the Seas’ month-long bow-to-stern makeover will add innovative cruising features similar to those found on the cruise line’s newest Quantum- and Oasis-class ships, such as inside rooms with real-time virtual balconies, a 3D cinema, new dining options including a sushi restaurant and more, to give guests an unforgettable onboard experience. Highlights of Voyager of the Seas’ revitalization include: FlowRider

Onshore or offshore, you never have to wait for good wind conditions to catch the perfect wave on the FlowRider. Whether you surf, boogie board or wake board, test your skills on the 12 meter long surf simulator or watch others take on the challenge from the nearby stadium seating. There are also private lessons for those that want to really hone their skills.

Virtual Balconies - Interior rooms with a view of the ocean! Virtual Balconies will provide guests in select interior staterooms with real-time sights and sounds of the sea, displayed on an 80-inch, high definition screen framed to look like a real balcony. An industry first concept from the Quantum Class of ships, the Virtual Balconies onboard Voyager of the Seas will be one of only three ships to offer this unique feature.

3D Movie Theatre - Already a huge hit on the world’s biggest ships, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean provides the glasses and the action in the onboard 3D movie theatre – all guests have to do is sit back and prepare to be wowed as new releases from DreamWorks and other film studios come to life in stunning 3D! Plus, the ship will also feature a 220-square foot outdoor movie screen by the pool which will screen movies and be used for giant video game challenges.

New Dining Options - A wide array of delectable dining options will be added to Voyager of the Seas, including fresh sushi at Izumi Japanese Cuisine, Royal Caribbean’s signature Chop’s Grille steakhouse, and Giovanni’s Table Italian trattoria. Plus, the ship’s Champagne Bar will be re-conceptualized into Royal Caribbean’s retro-chic R Bar, channeling the sophisticated 1960s era, complete with iconic furnishings and signature cocktails created by savvy mixologists. There will also be a new Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor guests to enjoy.

Technology - Voyager of the Seas will have a host of up-to-the-minute technologies added including new digital signage to help guests find their way around the ship and to find out what’s happening onboard, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service and flat panel televisions in every stateroom.

In October 2014, Voyager of the Seas will enter dry dock in Singapore for approximately one month before making her way back to Australia for her third local season. Her first port of call in Australia after this transformation will be on November 30, 2014 in Darwin, Australia as she sails on her repositioning cruise from Singapore to Sydney for the 2014/2015 summer season. The guests onboard this repositioning cruise will be amongst the first in the world to experience Voyager of the Seas’ new features.

The Voyager class of ships was the first to introduce the active cruise holiday and the ship will retain popular features such as the iconic ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall, a full-size basketball and sports court, and the Royal Promenade – an interior boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques where spectacular parades and evening dance parties are held.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.86 + 1.51%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 60.79 - 0.96%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.01 + 0.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.18 - 2.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Many people konw that Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982, but can you name the other former liner that was also pressed into service during the conflict?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What ever became of Cunard's Carpathia that became famous for rescuing the survivors of Titanic?

Answer - Cunard's Carpathia was torpedoed by a German Submarine and sunk in the Atlantic 17th July 1918.
courtesy of Janet Slee


Cruise News - August 4 2014

Meyer Werft Acquires STX Finland
MEYER WERFT announced this week that it is acquiring a majority share in the STX Finland shipyard in Turku. Following weeks of negotiations the Finnish Government and MEYER WERFT signed a share purchase agreement with the current owner STX Europe. With its 70% stake MEYER WERFT takes the industrial leadership of the new company.

Meyer Werft Acquires Turku ShipyardAt present some 1,300 employees and a specialized supplier network are involved in the construction of the cruise ship Mein Schiff 4 for the German cruise operator TUI Cruises from Hamburg. TUI Cruises just announced to order another two ships of this class in Turku. STX Finland is a specialist in the construction of cruise ships and a yard that holds exceptional technological know-how.

As Dr. Jan Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT, explained, " This acquisition will strengthen the yards in Papenburg, Turku and Rostock: With joining forces with Turku we can offer more flexibility to our customers. In addition both shipyards respect each other for their high level of professionalism and thus can learn a lot from each other in order to improve their working processes or to join forces on research & development.

We are confident that in this way we can create a good opportunity for the Finnish maritime cluster to thrive and also hope to interest many young people to join us for building the future high-tech ships."

The acquisition is still subject to clearance by the antitrust authorities and banks. The plan is to rename the company STX Finland Oy to Meyer Turku Shipyard Oy.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces All-Inclusive Package
Norwegian Cruise Line is debuting a new All-Inclusive package that takes the line's signature Freestyle Cruising to a new level, providing guests yet another way to customize their cruise vacation. Representing more than $2,400 in value per stateroom, Norwegian's All-Inclusive package is a first for major cruise lines, and is available for a limited time for all 2015 sailings* fleetwide**, for new reservations made from August 4, 2014 through August 29, 2014. The comprehensive package includes signature dining, alcoholic beverages, unlimited soda, shore excursions, internet access, service charges and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces All-Inclusive Package"Based on the popularity of our Fly, Cruise and Stay vacations, along with our onboard dining and beverage packages, we are now offering the first All-Inclusive package for our guests who want to experience all that the freedom and flexibility of Freestyle Cruising has to offer," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Always an innovator, we are making it easy for those that want everything included in their cruise vacation with the option of our All-Inclusive package."

The All-Inclusive package is available for 2015 sailings from three to 14 days in length, is priced by the number of days, and is available for all stateroom categories, including the Haven by Norwegian. When adding the All-Inclusive to a selected cruise, guests receive 10 percent off the cruise fare. For a seven-day cruise, the $899 package includes the Ultimate Dining package; the Ultimate Beverage package; shore excursion credit of $200 per person, pre-paid daily service charges; a 250-minute Internet package per person; 20 photos of any size; chocolate-covered strawberries; a bottle of wine; one bingo session and six bottles of water. For cruises from three to five days, the shore excursion credit is $100 per person; and for sailings from 9-14 days, the package includes 12 bottles of water.

As part of the All-Inclusive offer, Norwegian's Ultimate Dining package provides complimentary access to one of the line's specialty restaurants every night of the cruise, including Cagney's, the popular steakhouse; French bistro, Italian restaurant, Moderno Churrascaria, Asian-Fusion restaurant and more. The Ultimate Beverage package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer and glasses of wine up to $10 and unlimited fountain soda and juices at all bars, lounges, restaurants and on Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay.

*Includes all scheduled 2015 sailings from three to 14 days (excludes back to back sailings)

**Does not include Pride of America; not applicable to bookings made in Continental Europe or United Kingdom.

Carnival Corp. To Develop Haitian Island
Carnival Corporation & plc announced this week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for the development of a new destination cruise port in Tortuga, an island just off the northern coast of Haiti.

Carnival Corp. To Develop Haitian IslandThe amount of investment per the Letter of Intent of $70m represents the largest cruise industry investment ever made in Haiti, providing a new and exciting destination for ship itineraries traveling in the Caribbean. This also represents a major commitment to the people of Haiti by Carnival Corporation – the largest cruise company in the world, with nine industry-leading brands and dozens of ships operating in the Caribbean, the world’s most popular region for cruise vacations.

According to an email from Carnival V.P David Candib, "The development will create an exciting opportunity for our guests to enjoy a new, secluded and stunning destination in the island of Tortuga that the company expects will become a very popular place for guests to enjoy for years to come. At the same time, this commitment will initially stimulate significant development and construction activities, and then tourism business once the port is open, that will create a tremendous economic impact for the people of Haiti. Our initial estimates indicate we will employ more than 900 people directly and indirectly, and the project will be an anchor for further development on the island. We are working together with the Haitian people and government to build Tortuga into popular and economically sustainable Caribbean destinations."

This commitment to Haiti is part of Carnival Corporation’s larger investment in the Caribbean as a whole. The Caribbean is a crucial market for the success of Carnival Corporation and the cruise industry in general – and we remain committed to creating new and exciting products in the region. The Caribbean is not only the most popular region for cruise vacations, but it is also where Carnival Corporation’s roots are, and where the company’s nine brands deploy a large number of ships and set sail with millions of guests every year.

As we work to develop more diverse itineraries in the region, this new port will complement other popular destinations in the area, including our other Carnival-owned ports of Mahogany Bay, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Puerta Maya and Amber Cove, another new Carnival Corporation port being developed in Puerta Plata, founded by Christopher Columbus on the north coast of the Dominican Republic and scheduled to open with much anticipation in 2015."

P&O Cruises Announces Multi-Million Dollar Aurora Makeover
P&O Cruises has unveiled its plans for a $43.8 million make-over for Aurora this winter, the first ship in the fleet to receive the bold new livery design.

PP&O Cruises Announces Multi-Million Dollar Aurora MakeoverThe refurbishment will take place November 29 to December 18 in Hamburg, ahead of its Christmas and New Year cruise and before the South America & Pacific Adventure world cruise itinerary departing January 8, 2015.

Launched in 2000, Aurora’s last refit was in 2009. The planned changes for 2014 include:

• A new look livery design, which celebrates P&O Cruises heritage and its place as Britain’s favorite cruise company. It features a contemporary version of the Union Flag on its bow and new blue funnels with illuminated rising sun designs

• The introduction of Sindhu restaurant for evening fine dining (replacing the library on deck 8) with an Indian fusion menu designed by Michelin-star celebrity chef Atul Kochhar

• The Glass House restaurant and wine bar is replacing Café Bordeaux on deck 8. Available for brunch, lunch and dinner it will house wine displays and wines selected by expert and TV presenter Olly Smith. Enomatic wine systems allow passengers to buy premium wines by the glass. There will also be a private room for wine tastings and dinners

• A complete refurbishment of the buffet restaurant (Lido deck, deck 12) with new décor

• In the evening, The Beach House menu replaces the Pennant Grill menu to include family favorite s such as Fillet of Beef on Lava Rock

• A complete refurbishment of The Reef children’s clubs with room names changed to reflect Reef club names across the rest of the fleet

• The introduction of Freedom Dining to Medina Restaurant with more tables for two and Marco Pierre White dishes on gala evenings

• A refurbishment of the Sidewalk Café and the introduction of Costa Coffee and brand new “Grab and Go” counter, a great option for breakfast and lunch on the go

• The library relocates to the current cyb@study space adjacent to the Crow’s Nest on deck 13

• Casino and Champions refurbishment with new open-plan design, new furniture and improved stage area for entertainment, live music and quizzes

• Photography gallery upgrade to include more touch screen technology

• An extensive shop refurbishment

• Refurbishment of Oasis Spa

• Upgrade of all sound and light equipment in the theatre and show lounge

• New soft furnishings for all cabins with flat-screen TVs

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “This is a massive investment. It’s all part of our ongoing commitment to ensure continuous improvement of our ships and consistency across the fleet.

“Both Ventura and Arcadia underwent huge multi-million pound refits last year and Aurora is the next in line with Azura planned for 2015.

“Not only will Aurora feature firm favorite s from Azura and Ventura, such as Sindhu and The Glass House restaurant and wine bar, but we will also see brand new initiatives as well as the distinctive new livery.

“As the very first ship to display our new livery, we have big plans to welcome Aurora back in to Southampton. We can’t wait to see her.”

Holland America Announces 2015 Grand Voyages
Holland America Line's ms Prinsendam kicks off the new year on Jan 3, 2015 with a 68-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage followed by a 55-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage. These two itineraries are designed to take guests on longer explorations that visit some of the most interesting and exciting ports in the world. This is an addition to ms Amsterdam's 114-day Grand World Voyage that calls at 45 ports in 25 countries.

Prinsendam returns to South America, Antarctica and the Amazon in 2015 on a 68-day itinerary sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale"A Grand Voyage is like no other cruise experience. We asked our guests and travel agent partners which destinations they would like to visit on a Grand Voyage to be sure we included what was important to them," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "We took their suggestions and carefully crafted these three exceptional itineraries with more overnight visits and more ports of call, making these the most exciting and in-depth Grand Voyages we've ever offered."

Holland America Line's Grand Voyages make taking a longer vacation easier and more affordable —with little or no international air travel. Whether visiting one or several global destinations, the voyages feature famous landmarks, new destinations and extended time in port with late departures, overnight calls and overland tours.

Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage - Prinsendam returns to South America, Antarctica and the Amazon in 2015 on a 68-day itinerary sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale that departs Jan. 3. After passing through the Panama Canal, the ship will reach South America's Pacific coast and continue on to circumnavigate the continent.

During the voyage, Prinsendam will call at 31 ports in 11 countries, including spending seven full days cruising the Amazon River and three days of dramatic scenic cruising in Antarctica. The 2015 itinerary also features overnight calls at Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Manaus, Brazil, in the heart of the Amazon; and two full nights at Callao (Lima), Peru.

Guests sailing on this voyage also will enjoy scenic cruising past the Romanche and Alemania glaciers in Chile, Drake Passage, Cape Horn and Argentina's Glacier Alley. Segments of 31 and 37 days between Fort Lauderdale and Buenos Aires are available.

Grand Mediterranean Voyage - Immediately following its Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage, Prinsendam departs March 12 on a 55-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage that sails from Fort Lauderdale to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, visiting 32 ports in 12 countries. The voyage features many "boutique" ports of call in the Mediterranean and Balkan Peninsula.

When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents.The ship visits Caribbean destinations before crossing over to the Canary Islands and spending the night alongside at Tenerife. Prinsendam then explores Spain with five calls, including overnights at Cadiz (Seville) and Barcelona. Following an overnight at Valletta, Malta, the ship makes way for Crete, Greece and the Holy Land of Israel.

Prinsendam continues exploring the eastern Mediterranean with calls throughout Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Greece and Italy. Overnights at Istanbul, Turkey, and Piraeus (Athens), Greece, allow for ample time for shopping, exploring and experiencing the culture and history of the cities.

A 17-day segment Istanbul to Civitavecchia (Rome), 24-day segment from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona, 31-day segment from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome), and a 38-day segment Ft. Lauderdale to Istanbul is available. Guests looking to explore both South America and the Mediterranean can combine the Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage with the Grand Mediterranean Voyage to form an extended 123-day exploration.

ms Amsterdam's Grand World Voyage - When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents. Offering a refined and elegant "home away from home," the around the world journey is the pinnacle in travel, and this cruise truly is the grandest of the Grand Voyages.

Celebrity Cruises Launches "Signature Event Sailings"
Celebrity Cruises is broadening its immersive vacations in 2015-16 with its new exclusive array of "Signature Event Sailings". Guests can experience iconic global events and celebrations as part of their Celebrity vacation while sailing to popular locales in Europe, the Far East and South America.

Celebrity Cruises Launches Signature Event SailingsProviding vacationers with inside access into a series of the most desirable events across the globe, Celebrity's Signature Event Sailings immerse guests in each culture-rich destination with specially designed shore excursions that place them in the middle of the action or a VIP vantage point. Vacationers seeking to explore and experience a destination's unique and authentic cultural events can set their sights on celebrating the star-studded Cannes Film Festival, the historic Redentore Festival in Venice, Italy; Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, the vibrant Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and more.

To further enhance the Signature Event Sailings vacation experience, guests also will be entertained and engaged onboard with unique shows, speakers and activities inspired by the highlighted world event.

Signature Event Sailings for 2015-16 include:

Anzac Day - 100th Anniversary Commemoration in Turkey: As part of a 12-night Turkey and Greece cruise departing on April 22, 2015, history buffs can step back in time with a visit to the battlefields of Gallipoli, one of the world's most historically significant military sites, during the 100th Anniversary of Anzac Day. Guests also have the chance to explore and enjoy a tour of the Gallipoli Peninsula, which showcases Turkey's rich culture and history.

Onboard Celebrity Constellation, vacationers can learn about World War I and II from historian and author Peter Donovan, plus there will be a special viewing of the 100th Anniversary of Anzac Day service televised from the beaches of Gallipoli as well as a commemorative onboard ceremony.

Cannes Film Festival: On a 10-night Mediterranean cruise, departing on May 11, 2015, from Barcelona, Spain, Celebrity Equinox will make an iconic visit to Cannes, France, where the hot-ticket event of the summer will be taking place – the Cannes Film Festival. Vacationers can indulge in the epitome of A-list Hollywood glamour and sophistication by attending an exclusive VIP rooftop celebration ashore with live French music, cocktails and a can't-miss view of the locale's picturesque harbor. Onboard, guests can enjoy Celebrity's film festival – a celebration of past Cannes Film Festival winners – and watch live presentations from a film historian.

Redentore Festival in Venice: This 14-night Turkey and Black Sea cruise, departing on July 5, 2015 from Istanbul, Turkey, will visit Venice, Italy during the historic Redentore Festival – a festive celebration that dates back to 1577. Onboard Celebrity Constellation, guests can watch one of the most prolific fireworks displays in the world illuminate decorated boats gathered in Saint Mark's basin, and enjoy a themed poolside and interactive masque event inspired by a Venetian masquerade ball.

The British Open in Edinburgh: Departing on July 15, 2015 from Amsterdam, Netherlands, golf enthusiasts can enjoy the oldest and most prestigious of the major professional golf championships – the British Open – while on the 12-night British Isle cruise aboard Celebrity Silhouette. Celebrating the championship's 144th year, vacationers can enjoy VIP experiences that include special onboard events hosted by a golf pro, entry at the historic championship in St. Andrews, teeing up for a round of golf on stunning courses in three different locations during the sailing, and the rare opportunity to walk the Old Course.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: Guests can be part of the action in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during Carnival by sailing on Celebrity Infinity's special 14-night South America and Rio Carnival cruise, departing on January 31, 2016 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vacationers can samba down the Sambadrome of Rio in an extravagant costume and experience the vibrancy of the iconic Samba Parade in grandstand or VIP seating. The party continues onboard, as professional samba dancers will grace the stage and invite vacationers to learn the iconic Brazilian dance and show off their new skills under the stars at a Latin-themed celebration with music from South Beach to South America.

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong: Guests can experience Chinese New Year in one of the most vibrant cities of the Far East – Hong Kong – during the 14-night Chinese New Year cruise, departing on January 31, 2016 aboard Celebrity Millennium. While in Hong Kong, guests can explore historic landmarks, from the Wong Tai Sin Temple to Kowloon Walled City Park, and participate in a local tradition by visiting the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree. While at sea, vacationers will have the opportunity to marvel at live performances by Shaolin Monks, take Tai Chi lessons and celebrate the "Year of the Monkey" with more onboard events.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.31 + 0.52%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 61.38 - 1.92%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.009 - 14.04%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.96 + 0.61%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What ever became of Cunard's Carpathia that became famous for rescuing the survivors of Titanic?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - It was the Nordic Empress, re-named when acquired by RCCL
courtesy of Malcolm Scanlan


Cruise News - July, 28 2014

Costa Concordia Completes Final Voyage
Costa Concordia – the Concordia-class cruise ship that wrecked off Giglio Island, Italy in January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives – is safely moored at the Port of Genoa Voltri, Italy, marking the completion of the largest maritime salvage jobs in history.

Costa Concordia Completes Final VoyageTowing the disabled ship from the Tuscan Archipelago to the Mediterranean seaport of Genoa was a remarkably delicate task that required a convoy of more than a dozen support vessels, including two tugboats with a combined 24,000 horsepower and 275 tons of bollard pull at the bow for the hull, and two additional auxiliary tugs positioned aft. TITAN Salvage’s Nick Sloane, senior salvage master, and Rich Habib, salvage director, were onboard the Costa to provide around-the-clock, hands-on monitoring of the vessel’s list, ballasting, and speed, among other vitals.

“Our team’s goal was to accomplish the project with safety, ingenuity and detail,” said Chris Peterson, TITAN Salvage vice president. “We truly believe that we have done just that. Over the past two years, every aspect of this project was handled with the utmost professionalism and an inordinate amount of calculation and planning.”

TITAN Salvage will continue working in Italy over the next few months demobilizing equipment and personnel.

As for the Costa Concordia, a Genoa consortium will soon begin dismantling the 114,000-ton vessel, stripping the ship for scrap metal and recyclable materials.

Dismantling and recycling will be provided by a consortium formed by Saipem, part of state-owned ENI Group, leading company in Engineering and Environmental projects, and San Giorgio del Porto, a shipyard active since 1928 in ship repairs and refitting, the first shipyard in Italy to be included in the Special Register of Environmental Ship Reclamation & Recycling Facilities.

The Saipem/San Giorgio del Porto plan for dismantling and recycling of the Concordia wreck will be carried out in four separate phases, which are expected to last for a total of 22 months.

• In the first, the Port of Genova Voltri will be readied to receive the vessel and perform initial ship breaking activities including stripping of the interior furnishings and fittings on the decks above water.

• In the second phase the wreck will be transferred from the Voltri Breakwater to the “Molo Ex Superbacino” dock, where the structures of decks 14 to 2 will be dismantled.

• The third phase will consist of preparatory activities for transfer of the wreck to Dry Dock no. 4: at this stage the sponsons will be removed and the food storerooms and cold storage rooms on deck 0 will be cleaned.

• In the fourth and final phase, operations will be carried out in the segregated area of Dry Dock no. 4 with complete disassembly of the wreck, involving removal of the other interior fittings, clean-up of the various areas and final demolition of all remaining structures. This phase will conclude with appropriate handling, disposal and recycling of the discarded materials

Princess Cruises to Add New Ship to Fleet
Today Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, announced that it has reached an agreement with the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build a new ship, which will enter service in 2017.

The as-yet unnamed 143,000-ton vessel, which will be built at an all-in cost of approximately 600 million euros, will carry 3,560 passengers, and feature the successful design platform introduced by sister ships Royal Princess in 2013 and Regal Princess which entered service this past May.

The as-yet unnamed 143,000-ton vessel, which will be built at an all-in cost of approximately 600 million euros, will carry 3,560 passengers, and feature the successful design platform introduced by sister ships Royal Princess in 2013 and Regal PrincesThe new ship will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess Cruises guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; the adults-only Sanctuary; Movies Under the Stars cinema experience, and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ship will also include some brand-new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.

"We are incredibly excited to add this fabulous new ship to our already formidable fleet," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Royal Princess and Regal Princess have been exceptionally successful for us and have received numerous accolades from guests, travel agents and media, so adding another sister ship will enable us to continue to expand our innovative vacation experiences. We're very pleased that this new ship order is an indication of the confidence that our parent Carnival Corporation has in the future of the Princess brand." She added that this is the only new order Carnival Corporation & plc anticipates for 2017.

Specific features and amenities for the ship, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the coming months.

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer, commented: "All the orders we win are important for our Group, but some are more special than others. The one we're announcing today certainly belongs to this select category. In fact, it's no coincidence that Fincantieri is the universally recognized leader among the builders of cruise ships. It's a source of great pride to be able to immediately build another ship for a prestigious brand like Princess Cruises following the successful deliveries of two jewels like "Royal" and "Regal," which have already become part of maritime history." Bono ended by saying, "Our objective has always been to build ships of the future, and thanks to the Carnival Group, the leading market player, which has reconfirmed its well-founded confidence in us, we have proven over time not only to have kept faith with this ambitious goal but also to have been able to consolidate our world leadership in a sector of absolute technological excellence, like cruise ships."

Royal Caribbean Reports Second Quarter Results And Introduces The Double-Double Program
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported second quarter results, updated full year guidance and introduced its Double-Double Program, a new three-year profitability initiative.

Second Quarter Results

Royal Caribbean Reports Second Quarter Results And Introduces The Double-Double ProgramAdjusted Net Income for the second quarter of 2014 was $146.7 million, or $0.66 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $34.2 million, or $0.15 per share, in the second quarter of 2013. US GAAP Net Income for the second quarter 2014 was $137.7 million or $0.62 per share, compared to $24.7 million or $0.11 per share in 2013.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 2.6% during the quarter. This was at the high end of the company's guidance driven by strong close-in booking trends for European and China sailings despite continued softness in the Caribbean. Yields were up double digits in Europe and China offsetting the Caribbean's softness.

"Higher pricing for close-in European sailings propelled us above the top end of our guidance for the quarter," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "While the environment in the Caribbean remains promotional, our European itineraries continue to resonate well with strong demand from all markets."

Onboard revenue initiatives continue to deliver positive results with a 3% increase for the quarter. This is the tenth consecutive quarter of onboard revenue growth.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel decreased 4.7%, which is 220 basis points better than the mid-point of guidance mainly due to timing. Approximately $16 million of expenses expected to be incurred during the second quarter were deferred to the second half of the year. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the second quarter was $711 per metric ton and consumption was 341,000 metric tons.

Full Year 2014

Royal Caribbean said that it has raised full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $3.40 to $3.50 driven by a successful second quarter. Outperforming the mid-point of guidance for the second quarter by $0.16, with $0.07 related to the timing of expenses, drove the increase. Constant-Currency Net Revenue Yields and Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be consistent with our previous guidance of up 2% to 3% and flat to slightly down, respectively.

"It is gratifying to raise our 2014 EPS guidance again," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Overall business has been solid and our equity investments continue to outperform, allowing us to deliver even better returns to our shareholders."

Bookings since the April earnings call have been up nicely and Royal Caribbean said that it continues to be booked ahead of last year in both load factor and APD. Double-digit yield improvement on European and China sailings is helping offset a continued promotional environment in the Caribbean.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to slightly down on a Constant-Currency basis and approximately flat on an As-Reported basis. Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects 2014 Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $3.40 to $3.50 per share.

Third Quarter 2014

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up approximately 4.0% in the third quarter of 2014. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to up 1% on a Constant-Currency basis. Equity investments for the third quarter are expected to increase, mainly driven by the addition of TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 3. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects third quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $2.20 per share.

Double-Down Program

In recent years, Royal Caribbean said that it has focused heavily on improving investment returns with moderate capacity growth. Due to the success of this approach, management believes that now is an appropriate time to publicly articulate long-term goals for both ROIC and EPS.

"We are delighted to see how well our brands are doing in the marketplace," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our teams have worked diligently to solidify the company's market position while maintaining strong cost discipline. This has allowed us to target double digit ROIC and a doubling of earnings within three years."

Carnival Announces New Itineraries From Galveston and San Juan
Following strong consumer response to Carnival Triumph’s first-ever longer length voyages from Galveston and San Juan, the cruise line has added three new 10- to 12-day cruises departing in winter 2015 and visiting beautiful and exotic destinations throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Additionally, Carnival Magic will offer a series of four- to six-day voyages from Galveston in winter 2015, marking the first time that the 130,000-ton ship has offered a short cruise program from Texas.

Carnival Announces New Itineraries From Galveston and San Juan“Based on feedback we’ve received from our guests and valued travel agent partners, we are pleased to be able to provide even more itinerary choices from Galveston,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. “These new longer cruises on Carnival Triumph visit a variety of beautiful destinations while offering more time to enjoy the ship’s many fantastic and exciting features. At the same time, the four- to six-day sailings on Carnival Magic are the perfect choice for those looking for a shorter cruise featuring all the wonderful innovations aboard our newest class of ships,” he added.

The newly scheduled voyages on Carnival Triumph include three exciting options:

• An 11-day southern Caribbean voyage from Galveston to San Juan Feb. 9-20, 2015, calling at Grand Cayman, Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica and St. Maarten.

• A 10-day exotic eastern Caribbean voyage from San Juan to Galveston Feb. 20 – March 2, 2015, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Croix and Falmouth (Jamaica).

• A 12-day Journey of Discovery cruise round-trip from Galveston March 2-14, 2015, featuring Grand Cayman, Limon (Costa Rica), Colon (Panama), and Cartagena and Santa Marta (Colombia). From Colon, guests will have the opportunity to take an optional excursion for an up-close view of the wonders of the Panama Canal. The call at Santa Marta will mark Carnival’s first-ever visit to this beautiful and exciting seaside city.

The three voyages can be combined to create an unforgettable 33-day seagoing adventure visiting 15 ports across two continents.

During these voyages, guests can relax on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, visit centuries-old historical landmarks and attractions, and enjoy a diversity of shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities, all while experiencing Carnival Triumph’s impressive array of Fun Ship 2.0 dining, bar and entertainment innovations.

These include Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican venue, the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, and more.

The three new voyages complement Carnival Triumph’s previously announced series of 10- and 11-day cruises from Galveston and San Juan in 2015 and 2016. Two 11-day cruises sail from Galveston to San Juan Oct. 24, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, and two 10-day cruises will operate from San Juan to Galveston Nov. 4, 2015, and Jan. 27, 2016.

While Carnival Triumph is sailing these longer length cruises, Carnival Magic will, for the first time, offer a series of four- to six-day voyages from Galveston in February and March 2015, providing consumers an opportunity to experience the ship’s many unique features on a short cruise program. Aboard Carnival Magic, guests can experience SkyCourse, a suspended ropes course offering breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, as well as the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, Prime classic American steakhouse, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub and a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live music venue called Ocean Plaza.

Carnival Magic’s short cruise program will encompass two four-day cruises to Cozumel departing Feb. 19 and March 5, 2015; two five-day cruises to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico, departing Feb. 14 and 23, 2015; and two unique six-day cruises to Cozumel, Progreso and Costa Maya departing Feb. 8 and March 9, 2015.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reports Financial Results for the Second Quarter 2014
Norwegian Cruise Line (NASDAQ: NCLH, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., NCL Corporation Ltd., "Norwegian" or "the Company"), today reported results for the quarter ended June 30, 2014, and provided guidance for the third quarter and full year 2014.

Second Quarter Results

Norwegian Cruise Line Reports Financial Results for the Second Quarter 2014A"This quarter marks the first full quarter with both Breakaway-class ships in operation," said Kevin Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "Along with Norwegian Epic, these newer, premium, earnings-rich ships now comprise a little over a third of our capacity and contributed to the doubling of earnings in the quarter" continued Sheehan.

For the second quarter of 2014, the Company reported Adjusted EPS of $0.58, on Adjusted Net Income of $121.1 million, compared to $0.29 for the same period in 2013. On a GAAP basis, diluted earnings per share and net income were $0.54 and $111.6 million, respectively.

Net Revenue in the period increased 23.6% to $595.7 million driven by a 19.6% increase in Capacity Days and a 3.3% improvement in Net Yield (3.0% on a Constant Currency basis). The increase in Capacity Days was primarily from the addition of Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway to the fleet in January 2014 and April 2013, respectively, and was partially offset by the planned dry-dock of Norwegian Jewel. The Net Yield improvement was due to higher Occupancy Percentage, higher onboard and other revenue and benefits from initiatives to reduce our cost of sales. Revenue for the period increased to $765.9 million from $644.4 million in 2013.

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day decreased 2.3% (2.7% on a Constant Currency basis). The Company's fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, was $622 compared to $686 in 2013. Fuel consumption per Capacity Day in the quarter decreased 5.1%.

Interest expense, net was $31.9 million for the quarter. Interest expense, net in the same period in 2013 was $103.7 million which included $70.1 million of charges related to the refinancing of certain credit facilities and the redemption of certain of the Company's senior unsecured notes. Excluding these charges, Adjusted Interest Expense, net was $33.6 million in 2013.

2014 Guidance and Sensitivities

In addition to the results for the second quarter, the Company also provided the following guidance for the third quarter and full year 2014, along with accompanying sensitivities.

"We are pleased to reiterate full year earnings guidance given the current promotional environment," said Sheehan. "We are taking advantage of opportunities to strategically invest in initiatives to increase brand awareness and enhance the guest experience to drive long term returns."

Carnival And Dallas Cowboys Announce Partnership
Carnival Cruise Lines, Texas' largest cruise operator, today announced an exclusive, multi-year partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, making Carnival the Official Cruise Line of the legendary NFL franchise and expanding the cruise operator's already wide-ranging commitment to the Texas market. Carnival, which will homeport a third year-round ship in Galveston next year, will enjoy extensive branding and visibility through Dallas Cowboys-owned properties and bring its signature brand of fun to fans.

The Dallas Cowboys partnership coincides with the line's upcoming deployment of a third year-round ship, Carnival Freedom, to Galveston in February 2015In its new role as the Official Cruise Line of the Dallas Cowboys, Carnival will add fun and memorable fan experiences to tailgaters at home games with its new "Fun Crew," which tours the lots at AT&T Stadium on branded golf carts, offering exciting prizes to Cowboys fans, including the chance to win one of many cruise vacation giveaways. The Carnival brand will also be highly visible on digital marquees in the stadium and on other Cowboys media and online properties. Fans can also get in on the fun through a host of social media promotions and activities, giveaways and more.

The line's partnership kicks off this week with the exclusive sponsorship of the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Daily News Show airing regionally on Fox Sports Network. During nightly camp updates, new "Carnival 1st & Fun" segments offer an inside look at the fun firsts Cowboy's reporter Lindsay Cash experienced on her recent Carnival cruise vacation. The segments will also be available at Carnival's YouTube page (www.youtube.com/carnival).

"Carnival is far and away the most popular cruise line in Texas and millions of Texans have enjoyed exceptional vacations sailing with us from our homeport in Galveston," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. "Partnering with one of the most successful and storied franchises in professional sports makes perfect sense for us as the avid Cowboys fan base is among the most spirited in the country, much like Carnival guests."

"We're thrilled to bring Carnival Cruise Lines aboard as our Official Cruise Line," said Jerry Jones Jr., chief marketing officer of the Dallas Cowboys. "We look forward to enhancing the game-day experience for every Cowboys fan with the unique brand of fun and entertaining activities Carnival will be bringing to our home games."

The Dallas Cowboys partnership coincides with the line's upcoming deployment of a third year-round ship, Carnival Freedom, to Galveston in February 2015. With the addition of Carnival Freedom, which recently underwent an extensive multi-million dollar makeover, Carnival expects to carry more than 600,000 guests a year from Texas – the most of any cruise operator. Carnival Freedom will join Carnival Magic in offering seven-day Caribbean cruises and Carnival Triumph which sails on four and five-day voyages to Mexico.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.50 + 0.69%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 62.58 + 12.98%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.49 + 20.34%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.76 + 2.73%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Holland America's Volendam and Veendam of 1971 both started life sailing under different names for a different cruise line. What were their original names and what line did they sail for?

Answer - The two ships were the SS Brasil and SS Argentina, of the South American Moore- McCormack Line
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie, Guam USA


Cruise News - July, 21 2014

Costa Concordia Begins Final Voyage
(July 23) At 11:00 am local time, Costa Concordia – the Concordia class cruise ship that wrecked along shores of Giglio Island, Italy, in January 2012 – was disconnected from mooring cables and began its final voyage to an assigned berth in Port of Genoa Voltri, Italy, some 200 miles away. The project is the largest and one of the most technically complex maritime salvage jobs ever completed.

Costa Concordia Begins Final VoyageCurrently moving at an average speed of two knots, the slow and precise tow of the disabled cruise ship is being made by a convoy comprised of at least 10 other vessels. There are two tugs, with a combined 24,000 horsepower and 275 tons of bollard pull, at the ship’s bow towing the hull. Another two auxiliary tugs are positioned aft. The other vessels in the convoy, including a pontoon with a 200-tonne crane, are carrying personnel and equipment. A team of marine biologists are present during the tow and the convoy is being preceded by a specialized marine mammals-watching vessel. The convoy is anticipated to arrive in Genoa on Saturday, July 26, about mid-day pending favorable weather and vessel traffic in the area.

To ensure the continued integrity of this historic and unprecedented project, TITAN Salvage’s Nick Sloane, senior salvage master, and Rich Habib, salvage director, are onboard the Costa to provide around-the-clock, hands-on monitoring of the vessel’s list, ballasting, speed and more.

The sailing route will take the vessels south between the island of Giglio and Giannutri before heading west-southwest to a point south of the island of Montecristo. The convoy will then head west-northwest to a position south of the island called Scoglio d’Africa before crossing the Ligurian Sea to the Port of Genoa Voltri.

“This is the latest achievement in a very long series of detailed wreck removal phases,” explained TITAN’s Chris Peterson, vice president. “We have patiently and eagerly planned for this move and only upon confirming that is was safe to do so, got underway.”

Once the tow arrives in Genoa, it will be safely berthed thus successfully ending the historic salvage project. The T-M salvage team will assist with the transfer of the vessel to the Genoa consortium that will perform the dismantling.

Crystal Cruises To Sail Northwest Passage In 2016
Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage – one so mysterious and remote (500 miles north of the Arctic Circle), that explorers spent centuries seeking the passage, until it was first completed successfully by Roald Amundsen just over 100 years ago.

Crystal will be the first luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of majestic waterways lined with spectacular glaciers, towering fjords, and vast unspoiled landscapes away from mainstream civilization and tourism, north of mainland Canada. Beginning August 16, 2016 in Anchorage/Seward, Alaska, the award-winning Crystal Serenity will sail for 32 days from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean/New York City.

Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage"Crystal's inaugural Northwest Passage offers guests the opportunity to begin a new story of thrilling adventure, all the while indulging in the world's very best luxury vacation experience," said Crystal President Edie Rodriguez. "The voyage combines intrepid adventure, the great outdoors, and immersive cultural experiences with Six-Star service as only Crystal can deliver."

Crystal's Executive Vice President Thomas Mazloum spearheaded the strategic planning of the itinerary, with the help of Expedition Voyage Consulting by EYOS Expeditions, providers of bespoke expeditions to the most remote regions on Earth in safety and luxury.

"From reviewing operations with Canadian officials to meeting with Inuit elders of the Arctic who have provided their backing, our team has spent almost two years diligently gathering the field experts, information, resources, and support to ensure an epic experience that is exceptionally rewarding and safe for guests and crew, and respectful of local lands and cultures," says Mazloum. "During this voyage, speakers will enlighten guests on information regarding climate change, and how it has impacted this passage. With the recent retreat of polar ice, the time is right for us to lead the way within the travel industry, as Crystal has done throughout our 25-year history."

Following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers, the once-in-a-lifetime journey through once-unpassable waterways marks Crystal's maiden expedition-style itinerary and a break from many cruising traditions. Approaches to itinerary scheduling, destination visits, onboard offerings, and safety standards are all new or enhanced, with major changes including:

A flexible itinerary: Extra "surprise" days are built into the schedule to allow unplanned "calls of the wild" for polar bear-viewing, whale-watching, glacier-cruising, scenic helicopter flights, and/or seeking out the best wildlife and weather on the advice of local specialist guides.

Crystal will introduce "Wilderness Adventures" that take guests across polar tundra, up ice-strewn fjords, and into scenic coves to explore areas in and near maiden ports-of-call. Travelers will also be able to respectfully visit the small, remote communities and uninhabited, unscheduled spaces/lands/waterways en route – often with champagne waiting at the other end. Although some excursions will only be determined "in the moment" based on circumstances and environment, Crystal will spend the next two years planning a plethora of excursions and "Arctic safaris" involving kayaks, Zodiacs, a helicopter, ATVs, fishing, hiking, climbing, golfing at the world's northernmost nine-hole course, and even possible camping and/or overnighting away from the ship. Voluntourism opportunities to help local lands and communities will also be offered complimentarily to guests and crew via the line's "You Care. We Care." program.

A 14-person expedition team of experts in a variety of subjects -- including a native Arctic guide, scientists, and accomplished wildlife and landscape photographers -- will not only provide lectures on subjects such as the science and history of the area, but also offer hands-on seminars and workshops, host dinners with guests, guide wildlife watching from the ship, and accompany excursions, where appropriate.

Guests will be given a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the lifestyles of these small and remote communities during port visits, with activities created in partnership with the communities. Designed to show modern life today in the Arctic, as well as the rich cultural heritage of the region, visits will include demonstrations of local arts and crafts, Arctic sports, traditional drum dancing and throat singing, and tastings of local foods, such as Arctic char and bannock bread.

Embracing the spirit of expedition, Crystal's usual onboard atmosphere of rest and relaxation will be relaxed even further with wardrobe (complimentary parkas, boot rentals, outfitter recommendations, and no "black tie optional" nights) and cuisine that, although still gourmet, is modified to reflect the locale and limited ability to re-supply goods and store waste during the month-long voyage.

Ports-of-Call: Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome*, Alaska; Ulukhaktok*, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay* and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat*, Sisimiut*, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York, New York. (*=maiden call)

Waterways: North Pacific Ocean; Bering Sea & Bering Strait; Chukchi & Beaufort Seas; Amundsen Gulf; Dolphin & Union Strait; Coronation Gulf; Dease Strait; Queen Maud Gulf; Victoria Strait; Larsen Sound; Franklin & Bellot Straits; Peel Sound; Parry Channel; Barrow Strait; Prince Regent Inlet; Lancaster Sound; Croker Bay; Navy Board Inlet; Eclipse Sound; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Labrador Sea; North Atlantic Ocean.

Crystal Serenity and its escort vessel will be using low-sulphur Marine Gas oil fuel, exceeding environmental regulations. The escort vessel will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as personnel specifically trained in its use. In addition, it will serve as a platform for a helicopter and zodiacs, and be manned by a crew highly experienced in all aspects of operating safely in this unique area.

NCL Bans Smoking On Balconies
NCL Bans Smoking On BalconiesNorwegian Cruise Line is the latest cruise line to ban smoking on cruise ship balconies, effective November 1 of this year. The move follows Carnival Cruise Lines' announcement earlier this month that it was going to stop allowing guests to smoke on balconies as of Oct. 9.

In addition to the ban on balcony smoking, NCL said that smoking in the onboard casinos will only be allowed by active players. Smokers on the cruise line's newest ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway will still be able to smoke on the starboard side of The Waterfront except near outdoor dining locations.

NCL's policy even affects electronic cigarettes which will also be banned in all public areas where smoking is prohibited. The cruise said they were taking this position because electronic cigarettes look so realistic that they might be mistaken as tobacco cigarettes by other passengers.

Passengers caught smoking in unauthorized areas will be subject to a $250 fine which will be added to their shipboard account.

Financial Highlights
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) has announced that it has declared a dividend of $0.25 per share.

The company's board of directors approved a record date for the quarterly dividend of August 22, 2014, and a payment date of September 12, 2014.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock and Carnival plc ADSs will receive the dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in U.S. dollars or sterling. In the absence of instructions or elections to the contrary, holders of Carnival plc ordinary shares will automatically receive the dividend in sterling.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on September 2, 2014. Holders of Carnival plc ordinary shares wishing to receive their dividend in U.S. dollars or participate in the Carnival plc Dividend Reinvestment Plan must elect to do so by August 22, 2014

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.25 - 1.73%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.39 + 0.56%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 - 3.97%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.89 - 2.54%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Holland America's Volendam and Veendam of 1971 both started life sailing under different names for a different cruise line. What were their original names and what line did they sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - It was Princess Grace of Monaco who had sailed on her to marry Prince Rainier in 1956.
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie, Guam USA


Cruise News - July, 14 2014

Costa Concordia Refloat Has Begun
According to the Parbuckling Project website, which was set up as an information source by the consortium responsible for the Costa Concordia removal, the refloating operations to remove the ship from the sea bed started on scheduled at 6:00 am Monday, July 14th.

Costa Concordia Refloat Has BegunBy noon on the 14th, Costa Concordia’s stern and bow were detached from the false sea bed by about 1 meter and the wreck was floating thanks to the sponsons attached to either side.

By 8:00 pm Costa Concordia had risen by another meter from the sea bed and the wreck was towed 30 meters East of its previous position. At the end of the day technicians confirmed that the wreck was afloat thanks to the buoyancy given by sponsons, 2 2 meters off the false sea bed, and that the wreck was securely moored and that the first phase of the refloating operations had ended.

On July 15th, the preliminary underwater activities related to the beginning of the last phase of the refloating operation of the Concordia were under way. Technicians spent part of the day working to connect and tension the last 4 chains and 6 cables. The wreck remained in stable position and securely moored.

Currently there are more than 300 people working 24/7 in Giglio to prepare the wreck for the refloating phase.

The refloating work is expected to continue through Friday, July 18th and the plan calls for the wreck to begin her tow to the scrapyard on Saturday, July 19th. Once refloated, the 170-mile trip to Genoa is expected to take five days at a cruising speed of 1.5 knots.

Norwegian Cruise Line Orders Two New Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has reached an agreement with MEYER WERFT GmbH of Germany to build two new Breakaway-Plus class cruise ships for delivery in the second quarter 2018 and the fourth quarter 2019. Each ship will be 164,600 gross tons and include 4,200 passenger berths.

Norwegian Cruise Line Orders Two New Ships"Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have proven themselves as industry game-changers and are extremely popular with our guests," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "It was only natural that we build on their success with this new ship order that further solidifies our long-term growth strategy."

The contract price for both ships is approximately euro 1.6 billion. The Company has export credit financing in place for each ship, arranged and underwritten by KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH of Germany.

"We are thrilled that Norwegian Cruise Line has the continued confidence in MEYER WERFT to expand their fleet," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT. "We are very proud of our longstanding relationship with Norwegian."

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the concept of Freestyle Cruising which offers guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their cruise vacation on their own terms, including multiple dining venues, relaxed attire, a variety of accommodations and world-class entertainment. The Company took Freestyle Cruising to the next level with the introduction of Norwegian Epic in June 2010 and subsequently launched two game-changing vessels, Norwegian Breakaway based in New York in May 2013 and Norwegian Getaway homeported in Miami in February 2014. These ships incorporate groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that create a whole new complex at sea and connect guests with the ocean.

For a complete list of cruise ships scheduled to be built, please visit our New Ship Guide

Viking Ocean Cruises Names Godmother Of New Viking Star
Viking Ocean Cruises announced that Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen, Norway, will be godmother to Viking Star and will officially "name" the ship during a christening ceremony on May 17, 2015 – Norwegian Constitution Day. "Trude," as she is known throughout Norway, was on-hand at the shipyard to assist with the float-out ceremony, helping weld coins to the ship – a good luck practice that dates back to Roman times – and cutting a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship"I am so privileged to be godmother to the new Viking Star," said Drevland. "She will be the soul of Scandinavia, with some touches of Bergen. I will love it!"

"For our first ocean ship it was very important to have a godmother who personifies our company's Scandinavian heritage and the Viking spirit, so it is an absolute honor to have Trude as godmother to Viking Star," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises and a native of Norway. "Bergen, with its colorful harbor and stunning scenery, has always been one of my favorite cities, and we are delighted for our guests to experience it firsthand starting next spring." Trude Drevland, Godmother of Viking Star is one of the city's most charismatic and recognizable citizens. She is known for her many civic engagements and support of the arts, having served as a member of the City Council and as Deputy Mayor from 2007 until she was elected Mayor in 2011. For five years, she served as General Secretary of the Norwegian Band Federation, the biggest volunteer music organization in Norway, and she was the Leader of Business Development for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2002 to 2003. Born in Northern Norway, Drevland began her career as a nurse, eventually rising to various roles in healthcare administration, before entering public service. Leading up to the arrival of Viking Star in Bergen, Drevland has also showcased her city in some of Viking's other online videos, which explore the cultural treasures of the Baltic region.

Carnival Signs Exclusive Agreement With Cigar City Brewing
Capitalizing on the growing popularity of craft beer in the U.S., Carnival Cruise Lines has entered into an exclusive agreement to offer Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing's craft beers on all of its Florida-based ships.

Cigar City's Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Invasion Pale Ale will be available on 13 Carnival ships sailing from five Florida ports beginning this week. Combined, those ships carry more than two million guests each year.

Carnival Signs Exclusive Agreement With Cigar City BrewingThe agreement — the first partnership of this magnitude between a craft brewery and a major cruise line — was announced Sunday, July 13, at an event aboard Carnival Legend at the Port of Tampa.

"Carnival continues to seek high-quality brands to enhance our guests' experience, and Cigar City Brewing has been rated among the top craft breweries in the world," said Eddie Allen, Carnival's vice president of beverage operations. "Cigar City Brewing craft beers are a fantastic addition to our already extensive beverage menus and will provide our guests a chance to enjoy two delicious and refreshing beers that aren't available on any other cruise line." Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

"Cigar City Brewing could not be happier than to partner with another great Florida institution, that being Carnival Cruise Lines. Everyone at Cigar City Brewing is thrilled to start this wonderful partnership," said Joe Burns, national sales manager for Cigar City Brewing.

Carnival has 13 Florida-based ships sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas, including Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral; Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend from Tampa, and Carnival Fascination from Jacksonville.

Cigar City's Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is named for the colonial-era "Cracker" cowboys of Florida. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with unmalted wheat, orange peel and coriander, which ends with a spicy, dry finish. The beer pours cloudy straw in color and has moderate notes of orange peel, coriander and hints of vanilla.

Gold in color, Invasion Pale Ale is Cigar City's version of a "session" beer (a beer with a relatively low alcohol content), in a hoppy ale that celebrates Tampa's alleged history of being a pirate hideout. The tropical aroma offers suggestions of peach, mango, lime and papaya. Invasion has a light caramel malt character laced with a slight "breadiness" and the finish offers a bounty of tropical and citrus hop flavor and bitterness.

Unlike most U.S. craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing packages most of its beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are the most widely recycled containers in the United States, and aluminum may be reused repeatedly without loss of strength or quality. From a beer drinker's perspective, cans have zero light penetration to better preserve the integrity of the brew, they chill faster, are easier to store and have a longer shelf life than bottles. Cans also are shatterproof and therefore are allowed where bottles are not — such as poolside. Producing new cans from recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.895 - 2.02%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.08 - 3.22%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 - 0.66%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.72 + 1.05%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ship received a repreive from the ship breakers to star in the 1976 re-make of the movie "Voyage of the Damned". Hint: for her role as the St. Louis she was fitted with twin dummy funnels.

Answer - Irpinia, was the ship used in the movie Voyage of the Damned!!
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie


Cruise News - July, 7 2014

AIDA Cruises Suspends Israel Calls After Rocket Debris Lands On AIDAdiva
AIDA Cruises Suspends Israel Calls After Rocket Debris Lands On AIDAdivaGerman cruise operator AIDA Cruises announced today that is suspending port calls in Israel for two months following an incident where shrapnel from an apparently intercepted rocket landed on the deck of AIDAdiva. The incident occured Monday evening as the 825 ft. cruise ship with more than 2,500 passengers aboard was departing from the Israel port of Ashdod.

In a statement released by AIDA, which is part of Miami-based Carnival Corp,. the company said that there were no injuries or damage to the ship and that all 2,700 guests and crew members of AIDAdiva were doing well.

"We are very sorry that the guests of AIDAdiva were witnesses to this incident," said Hansjorg Kunze, vice president of communications & sustainability for the cruise line. "We assure all our guests that for AIDA Cruises safety of guests and crew is our top priority at all times."

The small pieces of shrapnel were discovered on the upper passenger decks of the ship as it was departing Ashdod and were examined and determined to pose no danger to passengers or crew. Passengers were informed of the incident and the ship continued to its next schedule port of call.

Ships that had been scheduled to visit Ashdod will instead call at Santorini, Greece, the line said in a statement.

Nicaragua Approves $40 Billion Alternative To Panama Canal
The Nicaraguan government this week announced details of a proposed $40 billion canal project that is intended to compete with the Panama Canal and will link the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. During a presentation at a Managua hotel it was revealed that the planned canal will be 173 miles long, 250-580 yards wide and 90 feet deep and it will be capable of handling the largest container ships in service today and should be able to support any new ships built for years to come.

Nicaragua Approves $40 Billion Alternative To Panama CanalThe canal plan is still subject to environmental and social impact studies but during the announcement but both Nicaraguan government and HKND officials said that they expect work to begin by the end of 2014 and for the canal to be completed within five years.

According to Dong Yunsong, HKND chief of engineers, six routes were considered before the company eventually settled on a route that originates on the Pacific Ocean side of the country at the mouth of the Brito River and travels south across 65 miles of Lake Nicaragua. Once across the lake the canal will head along the Tule and Punta Gordas rivers and terminate on the Caribbean side at Bluefields Bay.

Dong said that the project is expected to provide jobs for more than 50,000 workers during construction phase and will generate an additional 150,000 jobs when it becomes operational. The entire project will consist of six parts including the construction of: the channel, two deep-water ports, a free-trade area, tourism projects in San Lorenzo and an airport in the city of Rivas.

"This project can greatly reduce the distance between countries of Asia and North America, and to the east coast of South America,” he added.

According to the announcement, HKND Group will have the right to dig and operate the canal for an initial term of 50 years, with the possibility of renewing the agreement for another 50 years. The Supreme Court in Managua approved the project, ruling that a Chinese-operated waterway did not infringe on the nation’s constitution.

The idea of a Nicaraguan canal has been around for centuries with the first plan surfacing in the 16th century. The biggest problem in the past, and still a challenge today, is how to actually pay for the design and construct a canal that will be more than three time longer than the 49-mile Panama Canal. While the budget is currently pegged at $40 billion, some expert have estimated that the cost could eventually run as high as $100 billion.

Another issue specific to the route selected is the environmental impact of connecting Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest source of freshwater to the salt waters of the Pacific and Caribbean. During the announcement, Dong downplayed these concerns saying the operation will not cause significant water changes to Lake Nicaragua or affect water use by residents of the watershed.

“The channel will use mainly the water in the basin of the river Punta Gorda, which is sufficient to operate the channel," he said. An artificial lake will also be formed after the construction of the canal with an area of 154 square miles.

Royal Caribbean Using Google’s Street View On Allure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International today announced it is changing the way how people plan their vacations by working with Google to be the first cruise line to launch Google Maps Business View using Google’s Street View technology onboard the world’s largest and innovative cruise ship Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Will Use Google’s Street View On Allure of the SeasBy using Street View technology, Royal Caribbean International will provide consumers with an immersive and interactive experience when they are searching for a vacation.

"Business View allows people all over the world to explore a range of businesses and organizations in great detail in just a few clicks” said Deborah Schenker - Program Manager at Google UK, “You can check out anything from restaurants to aircraft in Google Maps, and now for the first time you can sail the seas too with the first ever cruise ship coming on board."

With just a few clicks, guests will be able to virtually walk through the various decks of Allure of the Seas including the Royal Promenade, a boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship, flanked by restaurants, boutiques and lounges; Central Park, an outdoor park longer than a football pitch complete with over 12,000 live plants and trees; the Boardwalk, featuring a hand-crafted carousel, two rock-climbing walls and the AquaTheater, a high-dive aquatic performance venue with the deepest pool at sea; Entertainment Place, with an elaborate theatre, night club, comedy club, jazz club and ice-skating rink, which offers professionally produced ice shows; the Pool and Sports Deck featuring a zip line, twin FlowRider surf simulators, full-size basketball/sports court, nine-hole mini-golf course, 15 pools and whirlpools and 22 restaurants, and many, many more.

Vacationers will be able to access the technology, a first for the cruise industry at http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/royalview or via Google Search results, Google Maps and Google+ whether they’re using their computers, smartphones or tablets.

Jo Briody, director of marketing & PR, Royal Caribbean International commented: “We’re thrilled to be at the forefront of the industry when it comes to delivering innovative consumer facing technologies, whether it be Roboscreens and digital shows on our newest ships or Google Street View technology on our website. Consumers go online to research their vacations and this is the closest they can get to actually being onboard. We are confident that once people get virtually immersed in Allure of the Seas’ various decks and features thanks to Google Street View technology, they’ll be eager to experience the real thing.”

Over 20,000 images were taken over the course of 60 man hours and eight days to complete the virtual representation of the ship which stands taller than Nelson’s Column (165 feet) at 240 feet high and can accommodate more guests per sailing than the capacity of the Royal Albert Hall (5,544 seats).

The images were taken using a basic DSLR camera using a fisheye lens and a panoramic head resting on a tripod. This method takes twelve photographs at each point and uses high-dynamic-range imaging to ensure the best exposure for areas of different light.

Chef Todd English To Sail On Queen Mary 2 In July
Cunard Line will welcome celebrity chef and partner Todd English on board Queen Mary 2 on 1 July 2014 for her Independence Day Celebration voyage from New York to Boston. While on board, Chef English will develop a new menu with the flagship’s culinary team, debuting later this summer. The famed restaurateur will also sign copies of his cookbook, Cooking in Everyday English: The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home, and participate in a Q&A with the Entertainment Director.

Chef Todd English To Sail On Queen Mary 2 In July“We are delighted to welcome our longtime partner and friend, Todd English, aboard Queen Mary 2 in July,” said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line. “Our flagship has the distinct honour of featuring the first and only Todd English restaurant at sea. We look forward to having him on board to continue celebrating the ship’s 10th anniversary.”

One of the most decorated, respected and charismatic chefs in the world, Todd English has enjoyed a staggering number of accolades during his remarkable career. He has been recognized by several of the food industry’s most prestigious publications, established one of the best-known restaurant brands in the nation – Olives – and is a four-time James Beard Award winner. In addition, Chef English has four critically-acclaimed cookbooks, including the October 2011 release, Cooking in Everyday English.

“I am looking forward to sailing with Queen Mary 2,” Todd English said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Cunard Line and the beautiful Queen Mary 2 over the past 10 years, and I look forward to celebrating with the ship and meeting guests while on board.”

Since becoming Cunard’s flagship on completion of her maiden Transatlantic Crossing in 2004, Queen Mary 2 has remained unchallenged as the world’s grandest ocean liner ever built and the most famous and fastest passenger ship in operation today. In her first 10 years of service, following a spectacular naming by Her Majesty The Queen on 8 January 2004, Queen Mary 2 has undertaken more than 420 voyages, including over 200 Transatlantic Crossings, and has called at 182 ports in 60 countries.

Holland America Announces Promotions
Holland America Announces PromotionsHolland America Line has promoted Jack Littlemore to director, revenue management operations, and Gabrielle Smith to deputy director, systems user support and operations support, both in the Revenue Management Department.

Littlemore will report to Beth Bodensteiner, Holland America Line’s vice president, revenue management and product marketing, and Smith will report to Littlemore.

“Jack and Gabrielle have been with the company for many years and they bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to their new positions,” said Bodensteiner. “The Revenue Management team continues to evolve, and we congratulate Jack and Gabrielle on their well-deserved promotions.”

Littlemore will oversee the ship inventory and operations support groups in his new role. Additionally, he will be responsible for the systems user support group. He is an expert on the company’s reservations management system (POLAR) and has been in the revenue management department since 2006. Littlemore began his career with Holland America Line in 2001 and held various positions prior to joining revenue management.

Smith will manage the newly combined groups of operations support and systems user support with an emphasis on booking tools. She joined Holland America Line in 1989 and is also a POLAR expert. Until being named deputy director, systems user support and operations support, she was manager, systems user support. She held various positions throughout the company prior to her promotion.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.65 - 0.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 56.91 + 2.367%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.04 + 3.75%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.38 + 2.15%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ship received a repreive from the ship breakers to star in the 1976 re-make of the movie "Voyage of the Damned". Hint: for her role as the St. Louis she was fitted with twin dummy funnels.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What ocean liner is shown in the background of the opening scene of the movie West Side Story?

Answer - The ss United States was shown in the background of West Side Story..
courtesy of dip156@yahoo.com


Cruise News - July 30, 2014

Carnival Corporation Reports Higher Second Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $80 million, or $0.10 diluted EPS for the second quarter of 2014 compared to non-GAAP net income for the second quarter of 2013 of $57 million, or $0.07 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income, which included a net gain on vessel transactions of $15 million and net unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $11 million, was $106 million, or $0.14 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2013, U.S. GAAP net income, which included a gain on a ship sale of $15 million and unrealized losses on fuel derivatives of $31 million, was $41 million, or $0.05 diluted EPS. Revenues for the second quarter of 2014 were $3.6 billion, compared with $3.5 billion the prior year.

Carnival Corporation Reports Higher Second Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald noted that second quarter earnings were significantly better than anticipated in the company's March guidance due to better than expected net revenue yields for most of the company's cruise brands, as well as lower than expected net cruise costs.

Donald noted, "We benefited from effective marketing initiatives, which combined with a gradually improving economic environment, led to revenue yield improvement for our continental European brands in the quarter compared to the prior year and is expected to continue through the remainder of the year. In addition, we achieved a six percent improvement in fuel consumption."

Donald also noted that during the second quarter Princess Cruises' new Regal Princess debuted in Europe, boasting a wide variety of stunning features including The SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending beyond the edge of the vessel, 128 feet above the sea. Additionally, Princess launched its first homeport cruise program from China in May with the start of a four-month series of voyages from Shanghai on Sapphire Princess. Also in May, Costa Cruises announced that it will position Costa Serena in China next year, bringing the company's total to four ships based in the world's fastest growing cruise market. The company believes it is the largest provider of cruise vacations home-ported in China.

Key metrics for the second quarter 2014 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") decreased 2.2 percent for 2Q 2014, which was better than the company's guidance of down 3 to 4 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.5 percent in current dollars. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 1.2 percent in constant dollars, primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, as well as advertising and promotion expenses. Costs were better than March guidance, up 2.5 to 3.5 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 0.9 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 3.7 percent to $657 per metric ton for 2Q 2014 from $683 per metric ton in 2Q 2013 but were higher than March guidance of $649 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 6 percent in 2Q 2014 compared to the prior year.

2014 Outlook

Since March, fleetwide booking volumes for the next three quarters are running slightly behind last year at higher prices. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2014 are slightly ahead of the prior year at higher prices.

Donald noted, "Collectively our brands are gaining momentum in our efforts to drive higher ticket prices and we continue to expect sequential improvement in revenue yields, despite a more competitive environment in the Caribbean this summer. We remain focused on further understanding our guests and refining the exceptional customer experience we provide. We have also made significant strides in our efforts to identify opportunities for cross-brand operational efficiencies. This work is still in the early stages, but we are making progress and beginning to see encouraging signs. We believe we have reached a positive inflection point for our company as we return to earnings growth in 2014 and work hard to ensure that growth accelerates in the years to come."

Total revenues are expected to be higher for the full year 2014 compared to the prior year. The company continues to expect full year 2014 net revenue yields on a constant dollar basis to be down slightly compared to the prior year (flat to up slightly on a current dollar basis). The company now expects full year 2014 net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD to be flat to up slightly compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is better than had been anticipated in the March guidance. However, changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates have reduced full year 2014 forecasted earnings by $0.06 per share compared to March guidance.

Taking the above factors into consideration, the company has increased its full year 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share guidance to be in the range of $1.60 to $1.75, compared to 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.58 per share.

Third Quarter 2014 Outlook

Third quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be flat to down 1 percent compared to the prior year due primarily to a significant industry capacity increase in the Caribbean. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the third quarter are expected to be 1 to 2 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year.

Meyer Werft Set To Acquire Turku Shipyard
According to a statement released by Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the German shipyard Meyer Werft is currently in negotiations with the Finnish government to acquire STX Finland Oy, which includes the Turku ship building facility.

Meyer Werft Set To Acquire Turku ShipyardThe Turku shipyard specializes in building cruise ships but has struggled to attract new business over the past several years. Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas were designed and built at the Turku Shipyard in 2009 and 2010. In 2012, the shipyard lost a $1.4bn order For a third Oasis-class ship following the Finnish government's decision to not provide a loan to finance an order,

According to the Ministry, the consortium has now reached meaningful progress on the main terms of the transaction. However, there are a still a number of open issues that need to be solved, including a number of discussions and agreements to be concluded with other stakeholders.

In the statement, Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori and Managing Director Jan Meyer, said "If we all work on it and create favorable conditions for the yard, we see a positive long term future for the Turku yard and the whole maritime cluster in the region, which the yard has a symbiotic relationship with. The negotiations are continuing intensively and we are confident that we can make necessary progress within a short period."

It is expected that an announcement could be made by the end of this week.

Royal Caribbean Launches YouTube Series Targeting Teens/Tweems
Royal Caribbean International and AwesomenessTV, a leading multi-platform media company serving the global teen audience and one of the most subscribed to teen destinations on YouTube, today announced the launch of two new YouTube series for teens and tweens hosted by some of AwesomenessTV's biggest teen influencers. YoMuscleBoii's Royal Caribbean Adventure, a four-episode travel show hosted by YoMuscleBoii Josh Levya premieres today, giving teens an inside look at a Royal Caribbean vacation. Shipping Julia, a six-episode scripted series inspired by Romeo and Juliet, starring top YouTubers Meghan Rosette, Oli White and Arden Rose, will premiere July 27. Both series will be featured on AwesomenessTV and supported by online advertising on the AwesomenessTV channel, across the multi-channel network and via its social media channels. Royal Caribbean has made an initial commitment for two seasons of each series.

Royal Caribbean Launches YouTube Series Targeting Teens/Tweems "As a family brand, teens are hugely important to us, and we realize they have significant influence when it comes to deciding where to go on vacation," said Carol Schuster, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "As a leader in innovation, there are so many WOW experiences and destinations only found on Royal Caribbean that are yet to be discovered by teens, and we're thrilled to be working with AwesomenessTV to share those moments with this influential audience."

"AwesomenessTV is the go-to teen destination for fun and entertaining content anytime, anywhere," said Beth Greve, Chief Revenue and Partnerships Officer, AwesomenessTV. "We have a truly engaged audience that not only watches AwesomenessTV content, but also comments, likes and shares these videos with their friends. This is a terrific partnership in which AwesomenessTV and Royal Caribbean are introducing a new audience to all the amazing experiences one can have on a Royal Caribbean vacation."

In YoMuscleBoii's Royal Caribbean Adventure, YouTube creator Josh Levya invites teens aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas for the trip of a lifetime. While sailing the world's largest cruise ship, Leyva takes on the cruise line's signature FlowRider surf simulator and iconic rock wall, and ventures into ports of call, including Royal Caribbean's private beach destination of Labadee, Haiti, where he conquers the world's longest zip line over water. Viewers will also see Leyva exploring Green Grotto Caves and Dunns River Falls in Falmouth, Jamaica, swimming with dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico and more.

Shipping Julia, a six-episode scripted series inspired by Romeo and Juliet, also shot on Allure of the Seas and starring Meghan Rosette, Oli White and Arden Rose as Julia, James and Michelle, respectively, will premiere July 27. The series follows 17 year-old Julia (Rosette), who goes on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation with her family after a bad breakup. Determined to give up on boys forever, her plans change when she meets the charming and handsome James (White), a veteran cruiser with a reputation for woo-ing the girls. After their relationship gets off to a rocky start, they quickly realize what they thought was just a cruise fling, might be so much more. The series is written by Allison Schroeder (Mean Girls 2, 90210), who also wrote AwesomenessTV's hit scripted series Side Effects.

Four New Show Debut On Carnival Freedom
Four brand new production shows featuring cutting-edge technology that blends amazing live performances with towering LED screens showcasing spectacular staging and special effects recently debuted on Carnival Freedom as part of an extensive multi-million-dollar makeover.

Four New Revues Debut On Carnival FreedomThe latest in the line's high-tech Playlist Productions revues, the four new shows – 80s Pop to the Max, Heart of Soul, Getaway Island, and 88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show – complement an array of innovative new dining, bar and entertainment experiences that are part of the groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative. Including the new shows introduced on Carnival Freedom, the company's entertainment team has created 10 captivating Playlist Production shows which are presented throughout the "Fun Ship" fleet.

Carnival Freedom's new Playlist Productions shows include:

80s Pop to the Max – This high-energy show channels the era of day-glo, Spandex, and big hair with spirited performances of the hottest music video hits from the 1980s. From the pop-rock of Duran Duran and Cindy Lauper to the smooth soul of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and beyond, 80s Pop to the Max takes audiences back to days when "video killed the radio star."

Heart of Soul – This mesmerizing show tugs on the heart strings, capturing special romantic moments with recognizable R&B and soul hits from a host of legendary singers, from Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Al Green. In a unique twist, six lucky couples are chosen for a special night of romance with VIP seats, champagne and flowers.

Getaway Island – A high-tech re-creation of popular beach movies of the 1960s featuring stunning 3D special effects, Getaway Island invites guests to set their watches to "island time" as they experience the ultimate tropical island bash with music from Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, the Beach Boys and others. Getaway Island also features its own version of Carnival Freedom's new RedFrog Pub with a cocktail glass-spinning bartender and talented guitar soloist keeping audiences entertained. It's always 5 o' clock on Getaway Island!

88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show – Goodness, gracious great balls of fire! Highlighted by sing-along hits from Billy Joel, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and others – as well as an appearance from Carnival Freedom's own piano bar pianist — 88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show spotlights these talented artists who have taken the term "tickling the ivories" to a whole new level.

Presented in Carnival Freedom's 1,400-seat Victoriana Show Lounge — which has been renovated to accommodate Playlist Productions' sophisticated technology — the new revues were created by Carnival's in-house entertainment team which has been expanded with three new members hired specifically to concept, develop and roll out these four new shows.

The company has also partnered with some of the most recognized talents in the entertainment industry, including Emmett Murphy, who has developed popular stage performances in Las Vegas, including Sin City at Planet Hollywood and The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage Hotel and Casino; Jennifer Savelli, whose experiences span the gamut from Broadway and Hollywood to Vegas and MTV; Bottom of Form and Marcos Santana whose extensive Broadway credits include serving as choreographer for Rock of Ages and dance captain for Guys and Dolls.

In addition to four spectacular Playlist Productions revues, Carnival Freedom's makeover includes Hasbro, The Game Show, the cruise industry's only live game show that features larger-than-life adaptations of the brand's iconic games.

Carnival Freedom's transformation also included Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the EA SPORTS Bar where patrons can catch the latest action and play popular video games; the BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican specialties, and the RedFrog Pub, an island-inspired watering hole offering a distinctive Key West meets British West Indies vibe.

Several new family-friendly features were also added, including a Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading venue, part of Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises featuring exciting youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss. Also new is Camp Ocean, an expansive new youth program that immerses children ages 2-11 in the wonders of the sea through more than 200 new engaging and educational experiences and activities.

The new features are available on the Carnival Freedom's five to eight-day Caribbean departures from Fort Lauderdale. Carnival Freedom will operate from Fort Lauderdale through February 2015 then reposition to Galveston, Texas, to sail year-round seven-day Caribbean departures.

Travel Agent Wins A Cruise A Year for Life On Holland America
As a travel agent, Linda Butler has sent dozens of customers on Holland America Line cruises. Now she will be sending herself on vacation — she will be taking a Holland America Line cruise every year for the rest of her life! The travel agent from Virginia won the "Cruise for Life" booking sweepstakes that ran in conjunction with the line's Above and Beyond promotional program. Butler works as a travel agent in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Travel Agent Wins A Cruise A Year for Life On Holland America As the grand-prize winner, Butler will receive a seven-day cruise for two in a verandah stateroom each year for life. She can choose to take her cruise in Alaska, Europe or the Caribbean on one of Holland America Line's 15 premium ships.

"Congratulations to Linda on behalf of everyone at Holland America Line," said Eva Jenner, vice president, North America field, charter and incentive sales. "It is gratifying to recognize the importance of our travel partners by awarding an advisor a lifetime of cruises, and we look forward to welcoming Linda onboard for many years to come."

Under the "Cruise for Life" sweepstakes, all travel sellers who made a deposited booking for a Holland America Line cruise that qualified for the Above and Beyond promotion were automatically entered into the sweepstakes. Butler was among 25,576 travel agents who were entered to win the unprecedented prize.

"Right now I'm still finding it hard to comprehend the enormity of this incredible prize, but I am very excited and already thinking about where I'll go first," said Butler. "I know that when I send my clients on a Holland America Line cruise they're going to come back with a lot of praise about their experience. Now I will have something in common with all my clients: We will all cruise Holland America Line for life."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.65 - 4.47%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.60 - 2.27%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.93 - 2.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.70 - 2.22%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What ocean liner is shown in the background of the opening scene of the movie West Side Story?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - The ship was Achille Lauro. Her previous name was Wilhelm Ruys.
courtesy of Roberto Lombardi, Genoa, Italy


Cruise News - June 23, 2014

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its first ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – was "floated out," marking the latest major construction milestone, and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place on Monday, June 23, at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard outside Venice, Italy. With a total of three sister ships now under construction, Viking Star will be the first to debut in early 2015 with maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship"Today is a proud day for our entire Viking family, as we are one step closer to launching a new era of ocean cruising," Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said at the ceremony. "Viking Star's maiden season was sold out before she even touched water, which just demonstrates how enthusiastic our guests are for destination-focused ocean cruises. It is this enthusiasm that has led us to place orders for two additional sister ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky."

According to Italian shipbuilding tradition, a float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Star's float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, when a "madrina" – a woman of honor – cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Star afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

Viking developed its ocean cruises by leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises® passengers, and with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," and appeal to those with an interest in history, art and culture. In addition, Viking Inclusive Cruising provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," the 930-passenger all-veranda Viking Star – as well as its two sister ships under construction, Viking Sea and Viking Sky – is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled and intimate, the ship features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:

• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. veranda stateroom, all with private verandas, king-size beds, large showers, and LCD TVs.

• Explorer Suites: Viking Star features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wrap-around private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable dome permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a glass-backed infinity pool, cantilevered off the stern, allowing passengers to swim surrounded by their destination.

• The Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a "snow grotto" where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air.

• Explorers' Lounge and Wintergarden: Spaces designed to facilitate mingling and storytelling, the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow is the perfect spot for taking in scenery through double-height windows over a glass of aquavit or pint of local craft beer; and the

• Wintergarden is a serene environment in which to relax and enjoy afternoon tea service complete with a hand-selected teas.

• Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from The Restaurant and the World Cafe, serving a variety of global cuisines and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, Italian Grill and The Kitchen Table, all serving meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking's ocean ships offer more al fresco dining than any other ships.

• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting passengers to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking Cruises, and onboard venues include a dramatic three-deck atrium where passengers can enjoy musicians playing regional and classical music; the Star Theater, home of enrichment lectures from scholars and experts; an onboard cooking school where guests can learn local specialties; and the Viking Piano Lounge, where guests can relax, mingle, and exchange stories after a day of exploring.

• Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels, and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

HAL's 2015 Grand World Voyage Aboard ms Amsterdam Announced
When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents. Offering a refined and elegant "home away from home," Amsterdam guests will enjoy gracious service, superior amenities and many special Grand Voyage experiences.

HAL's 2015 Grand World Voyage Aboard ms Amsterdam AnnouncedFor guests who have less time on their hands, eight segments ranging in length from 22 to 57 days are available from departure ports along the route. Highlights of the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale journey include 11 overnight calls in some of the world's most exciting cities, transits of the Panama and Suez canals, crossing the equator and International Date Line, visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, evening theme balls, local entertainment and a host of other activities.

"A Grand World Voyage with Holland America Line is an experience of a lifetime with a unique way of showcasing each region both onboard and ashore," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "For any destination collector, a journey around the world is the pinnacle in travel, and this cruise truly is the grandest of the Grand Voyages."

Following Amsterdam's departure from Fort Lauderdale, the ship will take a westerly course from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via a daylight transit of the Panama Canal. Once the ship reaches the South Pacific, guests will enjoy an overnight call at Papeete, French Polynesia. Amsterdam will explore six Polynesian islands before heading to New Zealand for an overnight call at Auckland.

Amsterdam then sails west along the southern coast of Australia after an overnight call at Sydney. Extra time in one of the most popular ports on the journey allows for an evening at the famed Sydney Opera House, the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or an overland tour to Ayers Rock. Guests also will have extra time Down Under with overnights at Adelaide and Perth (Fremantle). The Australia exploration is enhanced with additional calls at Melbourne, Albany and Geraldton.

The ship makes its way to Asia with an overnight call at Bali, Indonesia, before touching the island of Java. Blending Asian traditions with a western cityscape, Singapore is the next overnight call, as well as the departure point for an overland tour to Cambodia and Angkor Wat, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

Amsterdam continues its northwesterly course with calls at Malaysia and Thailand before an overnight call at Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar. The ship visits Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Cochin, India, before overnight calls at Mumbai (Bombay), India, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. From Mumbai, guests can go overland to visit the Taj Mahal.

Following calls in Oman, Egypt and Jordan, Amsterdam transits the Suez Canal on its way to the Mediterranean. Guests explore 13 ports in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, including an overnight call at Piraeus (Athens), Greece, before a leisurely Atlantic crossing and return to Fort Lauderdale.

Sailing on Holland America Line's Grand World Voyage is a cruise experience unlike any other. Onboard amenities are elevated to the highest level. With nearly one crewmember for every two guests, the finest service is always nearby. A different dining experience is offered every day, with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of food and fine wines from around the world.

Through the line's "On Location" enrichment program, local traditions and culinary and cultural experiences come to life both onboard and ashore to deepen guests' appreciation of the destinations. During the Grand World Voyage, that might mean illuminating speakers, special guest headliners, galas and local cultural and folkloric shows such as enjoying a didgeridoo player on deck while in Australia or belly dancing lessons in the Mediterranean

Royal Caribbean Opens New Office In Hong Kong
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that it is expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and establishing an office in Hong Kong, augmenting the cruise company's already established Chinese offices in Beijing and Shanghai. On this occasion, the cruise company also unveiled the summer 2015 cruise season for Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, which will homeport in ‘Asia's World City.'

Royal Caribbean Opens New Office In Hong Kong"As a global industry leader, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is committed to pursuing the exciting strategic opportunity that Asia in general and China in particular represent," said Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "As a testament to our commitment and confidence in Hong Kong and the surrounding region, Voyager of the Seas, one of our flagship vessels, will offer sailings into and out of Hong Kong starting in the summer of 2015. To support our expansion, we have now established a fully staffed office in Hong Kong, building on our 20 years of success in the market."

On June 26, Voyager of the Seas will sail a six-night itinerary from Beijing (Tianjin) to its new homeport of Hong Kong, where the ship will offer 22 sailings through October 2015 for international vacationers to enjoy a three- to 10-night cruise aboard one of the world's largest and most innovative cruise ships. Guests can choose sailings that visit Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as destinations in China.

Dr. Zinan Liu, Regional Vice President of Asia and Managing Director of China for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, "Hong Kong has immense potential as a homeport for Chinese vacationers to board a Royal Caribbean cruise that helps make memories that will last a lifetime. To ensure that we truly dazzle Hong Kong vacationers, who are sophisticated and trend-setting travelers, Voyager of the Seas will undergo an extensive bow-to-stern revitalization before she arrives in Hong Kong next summer."

As part of its plan, Royal Caribbean also will partner with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and local travel organizations, with the aim of raising Hong Kong and the Asian-Pacific cruise industry to new levels. Mr. Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) said "We are excited that Royal Caribbean has decided to make Hong Kong one of its key homeports in the Asia Pacific, which is a vote of confidence in our city's potential for the global cruise industry. Strategically located in Asia and with a host of experiences to offer, Hong Kong is a popular port among cruise travelers from not just Asia but around the world. In recent years, especially after the opening of the international-caliber Kai Tak Cruise Terminal last year, the HKTB has intensified promotion of Hong Kong's appeal as a cruise destination through dedicated campaigns."

Holland America Line Returns to Bermuda in Summer 2015
Holland America Line is returning to the pink sands and pastel-colored skyline of Bermuda on seven-day cruises aboard ms Veendam. Sailing roundtrip from Boston, Mass., six departures will sail in May, June and July, and feature three days and nights at Hamilton, the country's capital known for its gorgeous beaches and abundance of golf courses.

Holland America Line Returns to Bermuda in Summer 2015Carrying just 1,350 guests, Veendam offers an ideal mid-size ship experience in Bermuda that enables the vessel to dock at Hamilton in the center of town. The seven-day voyages spend a day at sea after departing Boston and arrive at Hamilton mid-day with enough time for guests to go ashore and enjoy the town. The ship then spends three nights alongside, where guests can experience local nightlife and dine ashore, if desired. Veendam departs Bermuda in the afternoon of the final day in Hamilton, with a day at sea before arriving back at Boston.

"We know our guests will be excited to see us cruise again to Bermuda in 2015," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest relations. "By extending the call to three nights, guests can have extensive time to experience the island while still enjoying the award-wining service and amenities that Holland America Line is known for."

With three days in port, guests will have multiple opportunities to experience Hamilton's British charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive 19th-century neo-Gothic cathedral, and the Georgian-style Sessions House built in 1815.

The seven-day Bermuda itinerary can be combined with a seven-day Canada/New England cruise to create a 14-day Bermuda & Canada/New England Collectors' Voyage. The full Collectors' cruise calls at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston; and Hamilton, with scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Bermuda cruise also can be combined with a 17-day Panama Canal transit to create a 24-day Panama Canal and Bermuda Collectors' Voyage. The ship departs San Diego, Calif., April 15, and calls at ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia, as well as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Boston and Hamilton, including a full transit of the Panama Canal.

Veendam offers an onboard experience defined by spacious comfort and the latest features and amenities. Guests aboard the ship will not only enjoy elegant dining rooms, a $2 million art and antique collection, wide teak decks and spacious staterooms — many with private verandahs — but also new and exciting venues and along with the latest culinary and entertainment enhancements.

Mom, Can I Go Down the Slide Just One More Time?
Mom, Can I Go Down the Slide Just One More Time?This stunning shot of a young cruiser sliding down Carnival Freedom's 207-foot-long water slide while the ship departs St. Thomas was taken by professional photographer Andy Newman who is sailing this week to capture images of the many new on-board innovations added during a recent dry dock.

The exciting new spaces include the first-ever Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading venue – part Carnival's exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises – as well as Camp Ocean, a marine-themed play area that's home to more than 200 new ocean-inspired activities.

A variety of Fun Ship 2.0 experiences – from Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri and new poolside bars RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Cantina to four spectacular Playlist Productions revues – were added, as well.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.41 + 2.58%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 56.89 + 5.98%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 - 3.23%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.42 + 1.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - The ship was Achille Lauro. Her previous name was Wilhelm Ruys.
courtesy of Roberto Lombardi, Genoa, Italy

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